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P3 OU 160437 >m 


Education for Democracy 
in Our Time 

Series in Education 



The Stanford University Education Faculty THE 






Horrall and Others LET'S Go TO SCHOOL 

Jones, Grizzdl and Grimtead PRINCIPLES OF UNIT 






Updegraff and Others PRACTICE IN PRESCHOOL 


Wilson, Stone and Dalrymple TEACHING THE 


Education for Democracy 
in Our Time 


Professor of Education 
Teachers College, Columbia University 






All rights reserved. This book, or 

parts thereof, may not be reproduced 

in any form without permission of 

the publishers. 



C. B. N. 

L. H. N. 


THE manuscript of this book was in the hands of the 
publisher prior to the outbreak of the European war at 
the beginning of September, but a careful reading 
revealed that only slight changes needed to be made in 
the text. The actual outbreak of war was but the logical 
culmination of a situation that had been developing for 

As this is written, it is still impossible to know how 
long the war will last or what nations will be involved. 
A portentous shift in the world balance of power is tak- 
ing place, but what the new alignments are to be is not 
yet clear. Some things are, however, perfectly clear. 
Democracy is engaged in a fateful struggle with the 
forces of reaction. All the values of democracy, all the 
values of our ethical and religious tradition and of 
religious toleration, all the humanitarian values which 
we prize, all of the values of intellectual freedom are in 
serious jeopardy in the contemporary world. The de- 
fense and fuller realization of the values of democracy 
and liberalism are dependent on an economic reconstruc- 
tion everywhere that will ensure security and freedom 
for all. We hope that our own country will not become 
involved in the war, but we cannot evade the stark and 
brutal reality that a* world dominated by autocracies, 
whether of the right or the left, would be a world in which 
none of us would want to live. 

The present world situation places enormous responsi- 
bilities on American education. The actual beginning of 
war throws into bolder relief the analyses and the theses 

[ vii] 


presented in this book. A prolonged war, which might 
become a second world war, would inevitably accentu- 
ate and make far more insistent the problems of democ- 
racy in this country. War, even when unavoidable and 
waged only in defense, places terrific strains on the 
institutions of democracy. Cool heads and the highest 
courage will be demanded in the years that lie immedi- 
ately ahead. 

There is much that is encouraging in the current edu- 
cational scene in this country, but also much confusion 
growing out of the uncertainties of an age of profound 
social change and transition. We need to clarify our 
conceptions of social objectives and of the social and 
educational methods appropriate to their realization. 
This calls for an analysis of the social scene and of the 
educational implications of significant proposals for 
economic and social reconstruction. There is no other 
place to begin. Educators, by the very social nature of 
their task, must make this analysis on the basis of the 
most authoritative information and interpretations avail- 
able to them from the social sciences and from their own 
observation and experiences. 

To be effective a democratic educational philosophy 
must operate in every phase of the educational enter- 
prise. I have, therefore, tried to examine in these pages 
some of the most critical problems of policy which 
teachers and administrators are today encountering and 
with which those who are preparing to enter the teaching 
profession will soon be confronted. I have written out of 
a conviction that grows stronger every year that in the 
future the teachers of the country must play a more 
important role, not only in shaping educational policy, 
but in all of our civic and social life. 

I wish to express my appreciation of the interest of 
Dean William F. Russell who made it possible for me to 

[ viii ] 


have the time to write this book. I am greatly indebted 
to my secretary, Mrs. Catherine Stolle, without whose 
competent assistance in many ways this manuscript 
would never have been brought to a conclusion. Dr. A. 
L. Threlkeld, and my colleagues, Professors George D. 
Strayer, John K. Norton, Willard Elsbree, and Merle 
Curti, with whom I have had the privilege of discussing 
many of the problems considered in these pages, have 
contributed much to my thinking. Professors Elsbree, 
Norton, and Curti read the manuscript and made valu- 
able criticisms and suggestions. To these and other 
friends I am grateful. I wish to express my especial 
appreciation to my colleagues, John L. Childs and 
George S. Counts, who read the manuscript and made 
many helpful criticisms and suggestions. To these friends, 
with whom I have had for many years the privilege of 
discussing intimately the problems of contemporary 
society and education, I am deeply indebted for many 
social and educational insights. But for the analysis 
made and the views expressed in these pages I am solely 


October, 1939. 















INDEX 231 



IN THE story of human experience, there occurs no 
more striking phenomenon than that which begins in 
the practice of primitive magic and ends in the processes 
of modern technology. Man's attempts to control the 
forces of nature have passed through four main stages. 
There was first the stage of reliance upon a general 
hocus-pocus presumed to have universal power. The 
medicine man who possessed this all-potent wakan was 
not bound by the exigencies of time, place, or condition 
in the practice of his craft. His medicine was big medicine 
here or there, yesterday or tomorrow, equally good for 
the crises of war or the cramps of colic. 

But an all-purpose magic was soon found to be seriously 
wanting. There were too many cases in which it did not 
work. Observant and conscientious medicine men there- 
fore began to mix healing herbs with their chants and 
exorcisms. They began to seek control over natural 
phenomena by the long, hard route of study and under- 
standing instead of by the short-cut way of direct com- 
mand and entreaty. They entered upon the second stage 
where they were still largely magicians, but magicians 
who used science to support their wizardry. 

The new combination was soon seen to be little better 
than the old dosage of straight magic, however. Intelli- 
gent men began to wonder whether more effective 
results might not be obtained by discarding magic 
altogether and pinning their whole faith on empirically 
observed and rationally interpreted facts. Thus they 

[ xiii ] 

Editor's Introduction 

passed into a third stage, in which they became mainly 
technologists. They wondered, they looked, they tried, 
they looked again, they wondered once more. Always they 
came back to that process of wondering, and then 
they found that they could not wonder pointedly and 
fruitfully without some basic notions very like the old 
short-cut magic. They had to have a philosophy. They 
sought for it in their magic past, and so they became 
modern scientists in much of what they did and primi- 
tive medicine men in much of why they did it. 

The final stage is hard to achieve. Men enter upon it 
when they move the basis of their wondering as well as 
the sources of their looking and doing up into the present 
era. Then they become physicians who search pur- 
posefully for the germ cause of a disease instead of letting 
the patient's blood with great technical skill for reasons 
uncritically derived from Galen. Then they become 
engineers who require a cable of a certain tensile strength 
because they have computed here and now the strain that 
cable must withstand rather than because some dictum 
maker of the past claimed that all cables must have 
weight proportional to their loads. 

The practice and theory the doing and wondering 
of education may still be found today upon all four of 
these stages. So fluid are the foundations of the craft, 
indeed, that occasionally an educational medicine man, 
eager to escape from the toils and worries of trying to 
find the correct pedagogical herb or to track down the 
sinning germ in the ills of learners, retreats from the 
third or second stage to the place where all one needs to 
do is to have faith in one big magic which will work all 
the way from the University of Chicago to St. John's 
College at Annapolis. 

There is no doubt as to where the author of the 
present volume stands. He is an educational theorist who 

[ xiv ] 

Editor's Introduction 

assails his task upon the fourth level. He has no timeless 
magic. He is not a compounder of herbs and simples who 
needs a few incantations to make his potions work. He is 
no operator who must acquire his reasons from authority 
or direct revelation. He is one whose philosophy of edu- 
cation is built upon the problems of our own time as well 
as upon the enduring values of democracy. He cannot find 
the bases for his wondering in a philosophy that comes 
from the speculations of other men on other events in 
other days. He gets it instead from the social crisis that 
faces him and all his neighbors here and now, from the re- 
sources that he and all his neighbors possess among them 
if they will only reach out and utilize what is their own, 
and, above everything, from the tools and instruments 
that he and all his neighbors have at their hands when- 
ever they shall truly want to change their ways for good. 
This is a distinguished book, not because the author 
already bears a distinguished name in American educa- 
tion although that, of course, is true but rather be- 
cause it is a book that comes from facts of the first order, 
basic facts, facts upon which the new education in 
America must be founded squarely and, further, because 
it is erected upon those facts in a thoroughly sincere and 
workmanlike fashion. 


October, 1939. 


Education for Democracy 
in Our Time 


IN THE fourth decade of the twentieth century we 
live in one of the most critical periods in modern 
times, indeed in the whole history of Western civiliza- 
tion. Ours is a time of stress and strain, of confusion 
and uncertainty, of profound economic and social change. 
These facts are documented beyond question in the cur- 
rent literature of the social sciences and, more important, 
in the experience of everyone who has eyes to observe 
the unprecedented changes wrought by science and 
technology, the conflict of social forces, and the spirit 
of aggression in the contemporary world. Every aspect 
of the culture is affected, every social value and every 
social institution. Four decades ago the American 
people looked to the future with highest hope, confident 
that their dream of happiness and prosperity for all 
would eventually be realized under a government so 
democratic and so just and in a country so richly endowed 
by nature. Today they look to the future with question- 
ing and doubt. 

The whole liberal tradition and all the institutions 
and processes of democracy are under attack in the world 
today. Never was there a more cataclysmic social 
overturn than the Russian Revolution. That country 


Education for Democracy in Our Time 

has embarked upon a gigantic effort to build a socialist 
society, but at the end of twenty years it is uncertain 
in which direction Russia is moving. In Italy and Central 
Europe the authoritarian state which negates every 
principle of democracy has appeared. Hitler and the 
Nazis have swept on to triumph after triumph. Nor has 
the United States escaped the economic and social 
ills of the period. There is every reason to believe that 
the next generation of Americans will make the most 
momentous decisions since the Revolutionary War. 
There is much that is dark and discouraging in the 
picture, and no one can be sure what the future will 
reveal. But it is also undoubtedly true that the American 
people still have the resources to control their own 
destiny. To mould the future in accordance with the 
ideals of democracy they must act promptly, resolutely, 
and with the utmost of intelligence. 

Education and Social Uncertainty 

American education reflects the tensions and strains, 
the doubts, and the confusion of this age of drift and 
uncertainty. Americans have long believed in the 
beneficial effects of popular education open on fairly 
equal terms to every individual. In the last generation 
they have become vaguely aware that a high degree of 
popular intelligence is essential to the functioning of a 
complex industrial civilization. More important, they 
have begun to realize as never before how essential 
popular education is to the effective functioning of 
democracy. Moreover, all well-informed citizens have 
begun to see that a system of popular education is an 
effective instrument for social control. They have 
observed how the national systems of education were 
employed in European countries before the World War, 
particularly in Germany and France, to foster the 


Education in an Age of Uncertainty 

spirit of nationalism that blazed forth in August, 1914. 
Since the war they have seen the communists in Russia 
and the fascists in other European countries employing 
the schools to build loyalty to political and economic 
ideals and institutions initiated by these new regimes. 
They have seen popular education employed as an 
instrument of social revolution. 

Education has become a subject of deep concern to 
Americans. Their interest in education today is probably 
greater even than it was a century ago, when the battle 
for free schools was being waged under the leadership 
of Horace Mann and his contemporaries. There is 
concern about the adequacy and quality of education 
available to children and youth, about the cost of public 
schools, but above all about the social purposes and 
implications of education and the methods of teaching 
employed in the schools. 

Schools and teachers are now subjected to constant 
pressures by individuals and groups seeking to control 
education and direct it to the ends that they respectively 
approve. This century has seen the enactment of much 
legislation pertaining to the content of the curriculum. 
The Tennessee statute forbidding the teaching of evolu- 
tion and the so-called "Red Rider " forbidding the 
" teaching" of communism in the schools of the national 
capital, the latter now happily repealed, are but extreme 
examples of such legislation. Overt pressures are exerted 
by various hereditary patriotic societies, veterans' 
organizations, and sometimes by associations of business 
men and industrialists to control the study of con- 
troversial economic and political issues and of socialism, 
communism, and other proposals for the reconstruction 
of economic life. Efforts have been made, on the other 
hand, and sometimes successfully, to utilize the schools 
for propaganda for social and moral reforms. 


Education for Democracy in Our Time 

The teachers' loyalty oaths enacted in some twenty- 
two states have no purpose other than the control of 
teaching. Freedom of teaching has become an important 
problem, and was a particularly acute issue during and 
immediately following the World War and again during 
the darkest period of the depression. In numerous 
instances teachers have been driven out of schools and 
colleges because certain individuals or groups took 
exception to their treatment of controversial social 
issues in the classroom or to their political views or 

These attempts to control teaching are evidence of 
the crucial importance of education in the modern world 
and of the consequences that hang on the purposes and 
methods that permeate the work of the schools. 

The Amazing Growth of the American Schools 

The growing concern about education is not sur- 
prising when it is considered in the light of the develop- 
ment of popular education in the United States in the 
last fifty years. 

By the turn of the century attendance in the ele- 
mentary school was compulsory and universal. As early 
as the seventies of the last century the high school, 
as the result of several court decisions, was firmly 
established as a part of the common school system. 
The number enrolled in public secondary schools in 
1890 was less than 250,000, but rapid growth had already 
begun. Today some six million, 65 per cent or more of 
youth between fourteen and seventeen years of age, are 
attending high schools. In no other country are these 
figures even approached. The first state university was 
established in North Carolina in 1789. Today every 
state maintains institutions of college and university 
grade, and the number privately supported has multiplied 


Education in an Age of Uncertainty 

until the total of these institutions is well over a thou- 
sand. More than twelve hundred thousand youth are 
attending American colleges, professional schools, and 
universities. Recent years have witnessed a marked 
development of adult education, until now provision of 
varied educational opportunities for adults is considered 
an essential function of our system of free schools. 

It is an interesting fact that the United States is 
the only country in the world in which the control arid 
administration of education are subjects of extensive 
graduate study. This circumstance is explained not 
only by the magnitude of the problems of support and 
administration but also by the fact of their social and 
economic importance and the consequent responsibilities 
placed on the profession. 

This vast system of education is staffed by a million 
teachers and other professional workers. Its potential 
power to influence the thinking and the habits of the 
people is enormous. 

The Purposes and Problems of Popular Education 

The proponents of popular education and its organizers 
and leaders in the first half century of our national 
existence, such as Jefferson, Mann, and Barnard, were 
deeply interested in the political and social effects of 
education and saw in the school an agency for the 
promotion of social enlightenment and progress. The 
establishment of the principle of free public education 
coincided with the beginning of the great westward 
movement and with the advent of modern machinery 
and industrial processes. In those early days there 
was much concern about the social purposes of education, 
but soon educators became engrossed in the vast prob- 
lems of organization, personnel, and administration 
connected with the rapidly expanding schools, with the 


Education for Democracy in Our Time 

result that the study of the nature of the educative 
process and of educational theory developed only slowly, 
although there was much interest in educational develop- 
ments abroad. It is not surprising that during a 
century of unprecedented economic achievement and well- 
being for the masses, when the poor man could always 
go west to new land, American educators were inclined to 
take the existing political, economic, and social system 
for granted, to become, in fact, staunch and undis- 
criminating defenders of the status quo. Such a man was 
the able William T. Harris, the most influential educa- 
tional leader of the latter part of the century. Harris, 
who was much interested in the theoretical aspects of 
education, accepted democracy but also, without ques- 
tion, the economic individualism that, although once the 
economic base of democracy, was soon to generate some 
of our most serious economic and social problems. 

It is probably more than an interesting coincidence 
that the first serious and extensive interest in the 
systematic study of educational theory and practice 
came just as the frontier was being closed. During the 
nineties the first important group of educational theorists 
emerged, including the conservative Harris, the demo- 
cratic and creative Parker, the McMurrys, G. Stanley 
Hall, De Garmo, and the great pragmatists, William 
James and the young John Dewey, who began a searching 
philosophical examination of the social nature and 
purpose of education. Under the leadership of James E. 
Russell the graduate study of education was, in this 
decade, placed on an enduring basis in the American 

The hard times of the seventies and the serious 
depression of the nineties, with attendant labor troubles 
and unrest among the farmers, were recognized by many 
as indications that the country would eventually be 


Education in an Age of Uncertainty 

faced with serious economic problems, and this notwith- 
standing the renewal of prosperity following the Spanish- 
American War. These depressions were followed by the 
first great reform movement in American politics, led by 
such men as Bryan, Theodore Roosevelt, La Follette, and 
Woodrow Wilson. Education was affected by all these 
developments. After a century events were compelling 
a renewal of interest in the relation of education to 
social needs and in its fundamental purposes and 
methods. Education must be made more effective. 
The schools must assume a much greater responsibility 
for civic and vocational education in an industrial 
society growing ever more complicated. 

The Scientific Movement in Education 

In the attempt to find solutions to the complex 
educational problems now emerging, there appeared 
two movements of great significance, the scientific 
movement and the "progressive education" movement. 

The nineteenth century had been a century of astound- 
ing scientific and technological achievement. The Ameri- 
can people were most enthusiastic over the achievements 
of science in industry and agriculture and in such fields as 
medicine. Toward the close of the century the efficiency 
expert appeared in business. It was inevitable that the 
scientific method should be applied to the study of the 
problems of education and that the belief would arise in 
the minds of many that education could be reduced to 
a science. 

The experimental method had already been intro- 
duced into psychological laboratories in European and 
American universities, with most encouraging results. 
Psychologists now began to study experimentally the 
nature of intelligence and of the learning process. In 
the early years of the century mental measurement was 


Education for Democracy in Our Time 

introduced by Thorndike and others. The possibilities 
in the intelligence tests developed by the French psy- 
chologists Bin6t and Simon caught the imaginations 
of American psychologists and were rapidly developed 
in this country. The new techniques were also utilized 
for the objective measurement of the progress of pupils 
in their studies. 

Soon scientific and statistical methods were brought 
to bear on a wide array of problems in the fields of 
method, content, personnel, organization, supervision, 
and administration of education. The science of educa- 
tion gained great prestige. The movement for measure- 
ment, experimentation, and standardization was under 
way. Most of the ablest of the younger minds were 
attracted to it. Research departments were widely 
established in school systems. The skeptics fought a 
losing rear-guard action. Indeed, most of the opponents, 
belonging to the old guard, little understood the newer 
movements or the social conditions that were producing 
them. They had riot the social and theoretical back- 
ground and knowledge with which to appraise the 
scientific movement constructively. 

How does this movement appear in the perspective of 
a generation? The application of the scientific method to 
the study of educational problems was in reality long 
overdue and most salutary. Educational policies should 
be based on realities, on the most exact information 
obtainable. The introduction and perfection of this 
method in the field of education has, then, been clear 
gain. Unfortunately, however, the scientific method was 
too often employed for the refinement of the processes 
of the existing school rather than for an examination of 
the underlying assumptions of this school. Many of the 
problems studied were of little importance, merely 
insignificant minutiae. The actual results obtained in 

[ 10 ] 

Education in an Age of Uncertainty 

some areas after forty years of effort often seem pitifully 
small and disappointing. 1 It may be said with truth 
that the effects were in some respects positively bad. 
A false hope was held before the ablest minds of the 
younger generation that the answers to the most critical 
educational problems could be discovered solely by this 
method. The social nature and implications of these 
problems escaped the notice of many engaged in scientific 
research. Attention was distracted from many basic 
issues and especially from the study of education in its 
deeper social relationships. Many of the devotees of the 
scientific movement became very impatient with theory 
and in particular with educational philosophy. It is an 
interesting fact that philosophy of education received 
but scant attention in some of the most important 
schools of education. 

As the social and economic crisis deepened after the 
World War, the more thoughtful students of social and 
educational affairs saw that the most difficult problems 
simply would not yield to quantitative and statistical 
methods. Statistical data do not interpret themselves. 
It cannot be demonstrated by these techniques that con- 
troversial social issues should be studied in schools or 
what issues should be studied or how. It cannot be 
demonstrated scientifically that the individual should 
be regarded as the end and not the means of government, 
that democracy is preferable to fascism. The hope that 
the problems of education could be solved solely by the 
application of the scientific method proved to be an 
illusion. The idea that the worth of a program of educa- 

1 See The Scientific Movement in Education, Frank N. Freeman et al. t 
the Thirty-seventh Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of 
Education, Public School Publishing Company, 1938. The reader will 
be interested to note how little has actually been accomplished by the 
application of the techniques of this method to such a subject as arith- 

[ 11 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

tion for democracy can be in any sense finally evaluated 
by any test other than the test of time is also a dangerous 
illusion. It is also true that science has given us many 
techniques of conditioning that can be made to serve the 
purposes of a dictatorship as well as those of a democracy. 
These observations, however, raise questions not of 
the value of the scientific method but rather of its use 
and limitations. The scientific method is not only an 
invaluable but an indispensable instrument for the study 
of social and educational problems. Only in a democracy 
can this method be freely and most effectively employed. 
The methods of science can be wisely used in education 
only by those who see the problems to be investigated 
in their broadest and deepest setting and relationships. 

The Progressive Education Movement 

Americans have a liking for the word " progressive. " 
No one wants to be called unprogressive. The term "pro- 
gressive" is widely used in political circles. Theodore 
Roosevelt attempted to found a progressive party. Today 
each of the old parties has its progressive wing. It was only 
natural that the word should eventually be applied 1 to a 
movement in education that had its inception in the last 
two decades of the nineteenth century in the work of men 
like Colonel Francis Parker and, later and more funda- 
mentally, in the thought of William James and especially 
of John Dewey. 

The label " progressive" has been applied to a wide 
variety of ideas and practices, and, although the emphasis 
of the Progressive Education Association has certainly 
shifted since its organization, certain broad principles 

1 The designation "progressive education" came into wide usage with 
the organization of the Progressive Education Association in 1918. The 
movement antedates this organization by a generation, 

[ 12 ] 

Education in an Age of Uncertainty 

and trends have been clearly discernible. This movement 
has emphasized the worth and uniqueness of the indi- 
vidual, the active and experiential elements in the 
learning process, and the social nature and social purpose 
of all education; it has opposed formalism and imposition. 

Francis Parker was deeply democratic in his sympa- 
thies. While an optimist, he was sensitive to many of the 
problems of American life and believed the school could 
educate for good citizenship by practice in the virtues 
of good citizenship. He made a significant step toward 
introducing the spirit of democracy into education. The 
Dewey experimental school of the nineties broke radically 
with the traditional school, both in theory and practice. 
It was the break with traditional methods of teaching 
that was instantly most spectacular and that produced 
the first profound impression. 

The progressive education movement was, in the 
beginning at least, in large measure a movement of 
protest against the formalism, the lock step, and the 
sterility of the curriculum of the old school, but it has 
always had its positive elements. The role of interest, 
freedom, activity, and of experience in learning, the 
needs of "the whole child" and of "integrated person- 
ality" are values that have been emphasized by this 
movement. For a long time the great body of progressive 
educators was preoccupied with method. In the opinion 
of many critics the emphasis on child-centered education 
tended to develop an exaggerated and undisciplined in- 
dividualism. A few schools went to extremes in the 
freedom accorded to children and individual teachers. 
These schools represented the same type of protest in 
education that has produced some of the more bizarre 
of the "modernistic" movements in the arts. 

But these extremists were never more than a fringe. 
Gradually the fundamental ideas of this school of thought 

[ 13 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

began to affect and modify all of education. The school 
became a much more wholesome and happy place for 
children. Gradually a more active type of learning began 
to replace the old memoriter methods. Gradually the old 
subject organization began to give way before a more 
functional approach to learning. The content of the 
curriculum was drawn more from the needs of the life 
about the school. More and more, the community became 
a laboratory of study. More and more, children and 
youth managed the life of the school. This movement has 
undoubtedly been the most creative element in American 
education since the turn of the century. 

For in reality the work of Dewey and other thinkers 
that gave rise to this educational movement cuts very 
deep. We can know only what we learn and make our 
own through experience. Science, which is fundamental 
to this outlook, provides us an instrument for extending 
and refining our experience. Experimentalism is the 
philosophy both of science and of democracy. Authori- 
tarianism in the intellectual, the social, and moral realms 
is rejected. This school of thought is liberal and socially 
progressive; in the minds of many it has been radical 
in its social orientation. The problems of American 
society, the progressives hold, should be studied in the 
school. Only in this way can education hope to develop 
in the people the intelligence required to achieve a 
democratic solution of their problems. 

All American schools have been more or less affected 
both by the scientific and progressive movements. Both 
these movements have made important contributions, 
but neither has found the solution to the most difficult 
problems of education. Many of the most basic questions 
are still unanswered. Unrest continues, and the struggle 
for control of the school becomes more evident. 


Education in an Age of Uncertainty 

Confusion as to Purpose 

This brings us back to our earlier discussion of the 
effects of the uncertainty and confusion of the period on 
education. There is no doubt that almost all American 
teachers and educational administrators are devoted to 
democracy and that most of them are deeply concerned 
about its future and the responsibility of education for 
its preservation. The majority are "liberal" in outlook 
and sympathy, though they frequently entertain ideas 
and display attitudes that are in conflict with one 
another. 1 

In the welter and confusion of the times teachers are 
told by one school of thought that education can only fol- 
low the social consensus, must teach in controversial areas 
only that which is socially approved. Another school 
of thought broadly speaking, the progressive holds 
that although society cannot be reconstructed through 
education alone, education has, nevertheless, a positive 
and constructive role to play in the improvement of 
American life and must concern itself with current social 
problems. One section of the latter school of thought is 
opposed to all imposition, to all "indoctrination." The 
concern of the school must be, in their opinion, that 
children and youth learn to think for themselves. They 
should learn the habits of toleration and cooperation 
essential in a democracy. But there must be no imposition 
of any kind. In its crudest form this doctrine holds that 
it is the function of education to teach youth to think 
but not what to think. Another division of this school 

1 William H. Kilpatrick (ed.), The Teacher and Society, First Yearbook 
of the John Dewey Society, D. Appleton-Century, 1937. Note partic- 
ularly Chap. VIII, the study of teachers' social attitudes by George 

[ 15] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

of thought holds that education must attempt more 
forthrightly and directly to build in the individual 
understanding of the economic and social bearings of 
democracy today and allegiance to democracy. The 
central problems are, then, what the social content, 
method, and direction of education shall be and how 
the individual may be taught to think for himself 
in a way that will predispose him toward letting others 
think for themselves and toward the maintenance and 
fuller realization of democracy. 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

The truth is that the struggle is on everywhere for the 
control of the minds of youth and of adults. It could not 
be otherwise in so critical a period of social conflict and 
transition. In this struggle the control of all agencies of 
communication is at stake. There is no opinion-forming 
agency more important than popular education, touch- 
ing as it does all the people almost literally from the 
cradle to the grave. No greater issue, then, confronts this 
country today than the problem of the social purpose for 
which our schools are to be employed, or of how they can 
be made to further the purpose of democracy. 

It becomes ever more apparent that although educa- 
tion has its enduring elements, it is, nevertheless, always 
a function of time and place. The educational needs of 
our country are different today from what they were a 
hundred and fifty years ago, much more complex, and 
much more extensive. The great educational necessity 
of today is for a democratic theory and program of 
education suitable to the needs of our time. Such a con- 
ception, to be of any value, must take account of all 
the realities in the current social situation. Otherwise 
it will not be worth the paper it is written on. Obviously 
such a conception will affect every department of the 

[ 16 ] 

Education in an Age of Uncertainty 

educational system, all its functions and practices, and 
the teachers both as teachers and as citizens. It is in- 
conceivable that a school can serve the purposes of 
democracy where teaching is democratic and administra- 
tion is autocratic. 

We propose in the chapters that follow to inquire what 
education for democracy in our time would be. It is clear 
that this inquiry must begin with a closer examination 
of the desperate social crisis from which our acute educa- 
tional problems arise. 

[ 17] 



THE nature of the crisis that grips the world today can 
be understood only in the perspective of its historical 
development. The World War marked the end of an 
epoch, the close of the first era in the economic life of 
the United States, the era of the Industrial Revolution 
and of economic individualism. 

The invention of the steam engine, of textile machin- 
ery, and of the cotton gin at the close of the eighteenth 
century ushered in an industrial revolution that in a little 
more than a hundred years was to create a new order. We 
are still living too close to the nineteenth century to com- 
prehend fully the meaning of the transformation wrought 
in economic and social life by the technological achieve- 
ments of this revolution. Manufacture was in large 
measure transferred from the small shop to great indus- 
trial plants. Farming was likewise revolutionized by 
modern machinery and by a complicated economy. A 
culture based on agriculture and handicrafts has been 
transmuted into an industrial and urban civilization. 
Paradoxical though it may seem, even rural life has been 
in large measure urbanized. 

The nineteenth century witnessed one of the greatest 
migrations known to history. At the beginning of the 
century, there were still vast unsettled areas in those 
regions of the world most favored by climate, soil, forest, 

[ 18] 

The Nature of the Social Crisis 

and mineral resources, in the United States, Canada, 
Australia, New Zealand, and Africa. The most desirable 
of these lands were settled, exploited, much of their rich 
resources wasted. The unleashing by new inventions of 
hitherto undreamed-of productive forces made this 
century, despite recurring periods of depression, an age 
of unprecedented material well-being. New industrial 
empires came into being. The leading industrial nations 
England, Germany, the United States, and France 
competed for the trade of the world. 

This period of material expansion closed with the 
World War, which was, in large measure, the product of 
the economic rivalries and imperial interests of the 
industrial nations. Before the war was over, the old 
regime had toppled in Russia, and the revolution there 
had inaugurated the first attempt to build a great social- 
ist state. In one-sixth of the land surface of the world the 
capitalistic system had been replaced by collective owner- 
ship of the instruments of production. Revolutions 
ushered in republics in Germany, Austria, and other 
countries between the Baltic and Black Seas. The Treaty 
of Versailles rearranged the map and created a fringe of 
new nations in Eastern Europe, including the ill-fated 
republic of Czechoslovakia. 

Today, twenty years after the close of the war, the 
world is experiencing the worst economic depression in 
modern times. The republics of Germany and Austria 
are no more. Austria and Czechoslovakia have been 
annexed to the Third Reich by Hitler. Germany and Rus- 
sia have seized and divided Poland. Renascent China 
has been forced into a cruel war to repel the Japanese 
invader, who seems to have embarked on a course of 
Asiatic conquest. The nations have been building arma- 
ments such as the world has never known in preparation 
for the next world conflict. Everywhere democracy is on 

[ 19] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

the defensive. The peoples are in the grip of a fear that 
grows out of uncertainty as to what the future holds in 
store for them. 

The Causes of the Crisis 

The broad outlines of the causes of this crisis in civili- 
zation, for it is just that, are not beyond the comprehen- 
sion of the millions of well-informed persons in every 
country today. Studies of this crisis in its various aspects 
form the subject matter not only of much of the technical 
literature of the social sciences but of many more popular 
treatises and of almost countless articles in the more 
thoughtful periodicals and in the daily press. Attempts 
either to make the causes seem very obscure or to over- 
simplify them are nothing more than a part of an eco- 
nomic and political folklore such as has recently been 
brilliantly delineated in Arnold's The Folklore of Capital- 
ism. If the causes and nature of the crisis were beyond the 
comprehension of the ordinary citizen, the prospects 
would be dark indeed. 

Our purpose is to examine the responsibilities that the 
crisis imposes on education and educators in a democracy. 
What follows is, therefore, only by way of summary and 
analysis of certain aspects of the situation essential to an 
understanding of the educational problem. 

During the latter part of the eighteenth century, as the 
culmination of forces long at work, the economic, po- 
litical, and social system based on feudalism, the guild 
system, and, later on, mercantilism were disintegrating 
under pressure from the rising entrepreneurs who were 
demanding that manufacture and commerce be freed 
from the old restrictions upon them. The period was one 
of intellectual and political ferment and upheaval, cul- 
minating in the American and French Revolutions, in the 
establishment of the principle of government by consent, 


The Nature of the Social Crisis 

of popular sovereignty, and of those rights of freedom of 
press, speech, assembly, and of religion that we know as 
our civil liberties. The American Revolution, which freed 
us from the economic dominance of the mother country, 
was much more than a war for independence. It was a 
profound political, economic, and social revolution. 
In France, where the old order was overthrown and the 
church disestablished, republican government was, eighty 
years later, placed on a strong foundation. Political 
democracy came in England with the parliamentary 
reform measures of the eighteen thirties and with the 
extension of the suffrage and other reforms following the 
Chartist movement of the next decade. The nineteenth 
century saw the development and gradual spread to 
most of the countries of Europe of the principles of liber- 
alism and political democracy. 

Economically, this upheaval meant the freeing of trade 
and industry from the restrictions of the guilds and from 
the mercantilist system under which commerce was 
closely controlled and regulated by the Crown or central 
government through monopolies, navigation laws, and 
other measures of the type against which the American 
colonists revolted. The entrepreneurs of the rising middle 
class demanded freedom from the guild control of labor 
and production and, above all, a free market, which was 
an essential factor in the emerging economic individual- 
ism. These profound political and economic changes 
coincided with the first great impact of the Industrial 
Revolution and were in considerable measure caused by 
the new methods of production. With the advent of 
power machinery, the modern factory system began to 
replace handicraft methods of manufacture. A new class 
of wage earners, the industrial workers, came into being. 

In the so-called open field of free competition the ruth- 
less and favored tended to crowd out the weak. Govern- 

[21 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

ment was supposed to act only as a policeman to preserve 
order and punish dishonesty. But with the advent of the 
modern corporation and of large industrial enterprises 
the situation did not remain so simple as that. Big busi- 
ness proved more efficient than little business. Many of 
the captains of modern industry also proved to be robber 
barons in a new guise. The concentration of financial 
and industrial power in a relatively few hands went on 
apace. Monopoly soon appeared in a new form, in the 
form of trusts and cartels rather than grants by the 
Crown. Under pressure from the middle class and labor, 
government began the regulation of business in an effort 
to prevent unfair competition and the evils of monopoly. 
Business and industry were subject to periods of 
depression, some of them very serious. It is not necessary 
to enter here into a detailed examination of the causes 
of the fluctuation of the business cycle. The withholding 
from the workers of adequate wages, with resultant 
overexpansion in capital outlays, and speculation are 
among the causes. The "free market/' uncontrolled 
competition, monopoly, concentration of wealth, tech- 
nological unemployment and depression seem to make a 
logical sequence. The drive for profits stimulates pro- 
duction. Wages are but reluctantly and inadequately 
increased. Buying power does not keep pace with pro- 
duction. An appearance of overproduction is created, even 
though it is underconsumption that actually exists. 
Overexpansion in the hope of more profits makes the 
situation all the more precarious. The market begins to 
recede ; fear develops ; the depression is on. Whatever the 
causes, these depressions and the dislocation and suffering 
caused by them cannot be denied nor the fact that their 
continued recurrence constitutes a threat to democracy. 
All these factors contributed to the growing intensive 
struggle for foreign markets between the great industrial 
nations during the fifty years preceding the World War. 

[22 ] 

The Nature of the Social Crisis 

Since the war, industrial nations have been confronted 
by that social phenomenon known as "technological 
unemployment. " Men and women are deprived of work 
by new laborsaving machines and by improved processes 
of mass production so well illustrated by the famous 
Ford production line. This dislocation of workers by 
new machinery has characterized the whole history 
of the Industrial Revolution, but today the unemployed 
are no longer quickly absorbed in new industries, as 

The improvement of laborsaving devices has been 
greatly stimulated by the drive for corporate profits, 
even during the depression. The new machines and 
processes call for fewer workers and in some in- 
stances are all but automatic. Smith Brothers constructed 
a new plant for the manufacture of automobile chassis 
at Milwaukee in which some two hundred employees 
produced more units than were formerly turned out by 
two thousand workers. 1 The new machines and proc- 
esses threw many out of work on the farms and in indus- 
try, so that even in the prosperous years of the twenties 
there were no fewer than two million unemployed in the 
United States. Some authorities place the figure as high 
as four million. With the failure to shorten hours of 
labor and to increase wages adequately, production was 
far outstripping buying power. During the depression 
years the number of unemployed reached sixteen mil- 
lion in this country. 

The Situation in the United States 

The pattern of development was the same in all 
industrial nations, but because of conditions peculiar 
to this country certain elements in the pattern were 
accentuated here. 

1 For a description of this factory see Stuart Chase's The Nemesis of 
American Business, Macmillan, 1931. 

[ 23 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

The United States of 1789 possessed enormous unde- 
veloped resources in land, forests, and minerals. The poor 
man could find land in the West. The development of the 
West provided an outlet not only for surplus population 
of our own country but also for the overcrowded coun- 
tries of Europe. The West required capital and created 
a market for the products of the expanding industrial 
systems of our own and other countries, notably England 
and Germany. 

In no country were the fruits of industry so rich. 
Vast railway systems were built and industrial empires 
created in steel, oil, grain, packing, in automobiles, 
in power, and in the equipment and construction fields. 
Toward the close of the century great industrial and 
financial mergers were formed. There was a tremen- 
dous concentration of economic power in urban and 
industrial centers and in the hands of a relatively small 
number in the population. 

By about 1890 the best of the land had been taken up. 
But too much land had been opened to the plow. For 
a while, with the advent of the automobile, American 
industry continued to absorb the workers, but in time 
the demand for labor began to slacken. Industrialism 
was spreading throughout the world. Agriculture was 
being improved everywhere. There were no longer ade- 
quate markets at home or abroad for the products of 
American farms. The depression set in for agriculture 
following the war, almost a decade before most indus- 
tries were seriously affected, and still continues despite 
the new policies of crop control and subsidies. 

If prosperity was greatest in the United States, the 
depressions have been sharp and severe. This was 
particularly true of the panics that came in 1873 and 
1893. The fact that after each depression not only re- 
covery but new heights of prosperity came within a few 


The Nature of the Social Crisis 

years tended to confirm in many the conviction that 
periods of hard times were a part of the natural order of 
things and that, just as surely, returning prosperity and 
progress were also part of the natural order. But the 
depression following 1929 has been so prolonged and so 
severe as to raise questions in the minds of many as to 
whether, after all, either God or nature was the author 
of all the suffering. With the closing of the frontier we 
had entered upon a new and uncertain chapter in our 
history. But most Americans were for forty years 
unaware of that stupendous fact. 

A Highly Interdependent Economy 

The economic system of the United States today is 
very unlike that which Andrew Jackson knew a century 
ago. The American farm of that time was much more 
nearly a self-contained economic unit than now. Al- 
though men like John Taylor of Caroline, the leading 
economist of his day in this country and a friend of 
Jefferson, had already foreseen the development of the 
modern corporation and the resultant concentration of 
wealth, the market was still fairly free in Jackson's time, 
competition was unrestrained, and no single corporation 
was strong enough to dominate any field of trade. It 
is true that credit was largely controlled by the United 
States bank, but that control was soon to be abolished. 
It is also true that the industrial interests of the North 
were growing rapidly and were gaining the advantage 
of a protective tariff. But the era was, in the main, one of 
free trade. 

How different is the picture today. The small cor- 
poration that gave John Taylor so much concern has now 
grown into the giant that he feared. The relatively self- 
contained economic unit, whether of farm or shop, has 
all but vanished. The elements of our economic life are 

[25 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

closely interconnected. The United States is now an 
industrial nation. Only about one-fifth of our people 
actually live on the farm, as against 90 per cent in 
1789. Farming is becoming ever more specialized. In- 
dustrial and commercial life is dominated by a chain of 
vast corporations covering every field of production, 
processing, distribution, construction, transportation, 
and financing. The control of these corporations is inter- 
locked in various ways. 1 The prosperity of the farmer 
is more than ever dependent on the prosperity of indus- 
try, and the reverse is also true. At the same time, our 
economy is so interwoven with a closely integrated world 
economy that disturbances in distant countries often 
have most serious and immediate effects on us. 

The development of virtual monopolies, by the 
granting of franchises in transportation, communication, 
and power transmission, or, more naturally, as the strong 
corporation by fair methods or foul crowded out the 
weak, has necessitated regulation by state and national 
governments. In the last seventy years a great mass of 
legislation has been enacted for the regulation of business 
and industry in the public interest, and numerous govern- 
ment agencies such as state public-service or utility 
commissions, the Interstate Commerce Commission, the 
Federal Trade Commission, and the Securities Exchange 
Commission have been created for the administration of 
these laws. Economic individualism is no longer the 
reality it once was. 

The Change in the Nature of Ownership 

In Andrew Jackson's time, ownership meant owner- 
ship of or legal claims on tangible property, lands, 

1 See Adolph A. Berle, Jr., and Gardiner C. Means, The Modern 
Corporation and Private Property, Macmillan, 1934; also, Ferdinand 
Lundberg, America's Sixty Families, Vanguard Press, 1937. 


The Nature of the Social Crisis 

factories, merchandise, ships. Most businesses were 
still owned by individuals or by partnerships. The 
limited-liability corporation was still in its infancy. 
Today General Motors is " owned" by many thousands 
of individuals, each of whom possesses certain papers that 
entitle him to interest as long as the company is solvent 
or to certain rights to profits if there are any. In many 
instances no single individual or family owns a large 
proportion of the stock of a corporation. In 1929, 
according to Berle and Means, the twenty largest stock- 
holders owned only 4.6 per cent of the outstanding stock 
of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company. 
The managers of this enterprise are not its owners or, at 
best, hold a fraction of its shares of stock. T. W. 
Arnold says in his Folklore of Capitalism, "It is obvious 
today that private property has disappeared/' adding 
that although there are still owners of independent 
private property, they are far down in the social scale, 
as, for example, farmers with but little cash income. 
According to Arnold, " Wealth today consists in nothing 
any one individual can use. The standards of wealth 
are simply current expectations of how the individual 
stands with the rulers of industrial baronies coupled 
with a guess as to the strength of those principalities." 1 
Nevertheless, the ownership of corporate shares is not 
widely distributed among the people. Berle and Means, 
in The Modern Corporation and Private Property, esti- 
mated that the total number of stockholders in the 
country in 1929 was between four and seven million 
persons, and "73.7 of corporate dividends were received 
by 597,003 persons reporting incomes of $5000 or more." 
In 1935, of the six million farmers of the country 43 per 

1 T. W. Arnold, The Folklore of Capitalism, Yale University Press, 
1937. Note particularly pp. 121-127 on the "language of property." 

[ 27 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

cent were tenants. In 1930, two-fifths of the farms were 

The trend is plainly away from the wide distribution 
of ownership of productive property that was the 
essence of economic individualism in its early days and 
toward collective ownership. Collectivism is one of the 
color words, the use of which is likely to give heart 
failure to many who are favored by the existing order 
of things, for the simple reason that to them it signifies 
nothing short of socialism and the complete abolition 
of private ownership of property. But there is every 
reason why the economic phenomena and trends of our 
time should be accurately described. Collectivism is, 
of course, not an absolute but a relative matter. It 
has various manifestations. There is a radical differ- 
ence between the collectivism developing in the United 
States, where the instruments of production are still 
owned by private individuals but increasingly so through 
corporate shares, and the controls developing in the 
fascist states or the ownership of all the instruments 
of production and distribution by the state in Russia. 

The pressing problem that confronts us is how to 
manage this vast, complicated, integrated, corporately 
controlled economy in the interests of the people with- 
out the destruction of all the values of liberalism and 
democracy. This problem profoundly affects the work 
of education. 

The Nature of the Crisis 

We are now in a position to see more clearly the 
nature of the crisis and how fundamental and far- 
reaching it is. Viewed from one standpoint, we are 
confronted simultaneously with three crises, an economic 
crisis, a political crisis, and a crisis in thought. It is 
true that these are rather three manifestations of one 


The Nature of the Social Crisis 

great crisis and that every aspect of the culture has been 
affected by the changes wrought by science and machin- 
ery in the critical period of transition through which 
we are living. But each of the three aspects, the economic, 
the political, and the intellectual, is clearly defined. 
Let us see more definitely what is involved in each of 
these areas. 

The Economic Crisis. The economic crisis arises out 
of a complex of factors inherent in industrialism and 
in the so-called " private enterprise" system, or historic 
economic individualism. As we have already seen, it is 
scarcely correct longer to call our economy a private- 
enterprise system. It is true that Henry Ford, through 
his mechanical and organizing genius and with the protec- 
tion of patent laws, has built, and that his family owns, 
an industrial empire. But it is unnecessary to say that 
this is one instance in millions and that it could happen 
again, if at all, only under similar circumstances at 
the initial stage of the development of a new machine 
or industry. What chance has a workman in a Ford 
factory who has even the greatest intelligence and enter- 
prise but who is without funds to go into the business of 
manufacturing automobiles? Certainly his chances of 
becoming president of the United States are much 
greater. Modern industrialism has profoundly altered 
the distribution and control of wealth, the class struc- 
ture of our society, and the opportunities for individual 

Of basic importance is the fact that most workers 
have been separated from ownership in the tools of 
production. A vast class of wage earners who have noth- 
ing to sell but their labor has come into existence. This 
class includes not only the industrial workers but the 
white-collar workers as well and almost the entire pro- 
fessional group. In some instances, as under the civil 

[29 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

service, the tenure of these workers is protected, but 
this is scarcely true outside the government service. 
The worker is hired or turned off, just as machines are 
turned on or off, with the rise or fall of the business curve. 
Of the 48,829,920 workers in the United States, as shown 
by the 1930 census, approximately four-fifths belong to 
this wage-earning class in shop, office, mine, or on the 
farms. With their hold on employment precarious, the 
psychology of those dependent on wages or salaries is 
characterized by a feeling of dependence and of fear. 
Only a minority of farmers own their property outright, 
clear of all encumbrances. The rapid growth of mergers 
and holding companies and of the chain store is familiar 
to every citizen who reads a daily paper. The number of 
effective independent entrepreneurs is steadily decreasing. 

Profit is the motive force of this economic system. 
Even in a market that is largely controlled or dominated 
by virtual corporate monopolies, a fierce struggle is 
carried on for position or advantage. Competition may 
be between housing and automobiles. With each indus- 
try struggling to enhance profits by cutting costs through 
improvement of management and of labor-saving 
machinery, employment becomes steadily more pre- 
carious. Economic individualism has been unable to 
prevent depressions; in fact, as we have seen, left alone, 
it pursues constantly those policies that can lead only 
to depressions. 

Despite the marvelous productive power of modern 
technology and the natural resources of our country, 
more than half of our people are without any form of 
economic security. The economic equality that once 
formed the base of social and political democracy in this 
country has been largely destroyed. Unless our economy 
can be so managed that it will restore economic well- 
being and security to all who are willing to work, vast 


The Nature of the Social Crisis 

numbers face a condition that will be little better than 
slavery. This is the economic crisis that confronts us 
today and that underlies the political and intellectual 

The Political Crisis. The political crisis grows out of 
the economic crisis. When economic security was within 
reach of virtually every family, when there was actually 
a very wide distribution of the ownership of productive 
property, when four-fifths of the families still lived on 
the land and industry was still carried on largely in 
small shops, when there was no economic power strong 
enough to challenge or thwart the will of the people, 
democracy flourished. Today, with the majority of the 
people entirely dependent on wages for existence, totally 
lacking economic security, without economic power 
except as it is wielded by organized labor, organized 
farmers, and political pressure and control by govern- 
ment, democracy is in imminent danger. The right to 
vote is likely to appear of little consequence to the man 
who is unable to find work to support his family. He 
may soon be willing to barter his ballot for a promise of 
security no matter how meager or spurious the security 
promised. Vast wealth has been created in this country 
in the past seventy-five years, but the majority of the 
people have no property except the clothes on their 
backs and the meager furniture in their homes. Business 
and industry, on the contrary, have exerted a tremendous 
influence on government, so much so as to give some color 
to the dictum of Karl Marx that in a capitalist society 
government is but the executive committee of the 
capitalist class. 

The history of American politics since the first ad- 
ministration of Jefferson has been the history of a 
struggle by the people to control economic processes in 
their own interests. This was the true significance of 

[31 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

Jefferson's struggle with the Federalists and of Jackson's 
war on the bank. This was the meaning of the agrarian 
revolt in the West following the Civil War. This was 
the meaning of the greenback movement in the seventies, 
of the populist movement in the eighties and nineties. 
This is the meaning of the more recent progressive move- 
ments in both parties led by such men as Bryan, the 
La Follettes, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, 
Norris, Borah, and Franklin Roosevelt. This leadership 
has always aimed at reform rather than fundamental 
reconstruction, at regulation rather than government 
ownership- of utilities, heavy industries, and credit. 
These movements have often been confused, have thrown 
up many erratic leaders such as Senator Borah and 
demagogues such as Huey Long. But the owners of 
corporate wealth have never been confused as to their 
immediate interests, though many have seemed hope- 
lessly ignorant of the great economic trends of the age 
and of their own long-range interests. It seems to me that 
no other interpretation can be put on the implacable 
hatred of the majority of this class for the works of 
Franklin Roosevelt. 

When the current depression deepened, agitators of 
the type of Long and Father Coughlin appeared, appeal- 
ing to and promising everything to the dispossessed, 
a most ominous sign, for the appeal of these men smacked 
of fascism in method if not in purpose. For fascism has 
represented the seizure of power by an oligarchy that 
rises to power on the backs of the hard-pressed middle 
and working classes. Its appeal is to the dispossessed 
and depressed members of the middle class and to the 
unemployed. Once in power, the party and military 
dictatorship that fascism is vastly increases the control 
of the economy by the central government, an interesting 


The Nature of the Social Crisis 

and significant phenomenon, which, in the opinion of 
some, leads inevitably in the direction of state socialism. 

The struggle of the people to control their economic 
life has reached a critical stage in the modern world. 
The system of tariffs and quotas, the struggle for 
self-sufficiency on the part of nations lacking natural 
resources in their attempts to solve their economic prob- 
lems, often for military or other means of defense and 
conquest, has virtually strangled international trade. 
In this situation is found the explanation of the authori- 
tarian regimes that have been established not only in 
Italy and Germany but in most of the countries of 

Unless we can solve the problem of economic security 
for the common man, we can have no hope for the con- 
tinuation of democracy in the United States. This is the 
political crisis that confronts us. 

The Crisis in Thought. Associated with the economic 
and political crises is an intellectual crisis, a conflict 
between two world outlooks or philosophies. 

One of these world outlooks is authoritarian, the other, 
scientific and experimental, or pragmatic, and demo- 
cratic. According to the first, institutions, laws, values 
are to be judged by their conformance to universals 
that have the authority of absolutes. The discovery of 
truth, or knowing, is a process of discovering the uni- 
versals or absolutes that constitute the patterns of which 
the mundane world is so poor an expression. Where this 
outlook prevails, law and moral values are imposed by 
authority. This world view derives from the philosophic 
idealism or absolutisms of Plato, Aristotle, and St. 
Thomas Aquinas. Fascism is a perversion of this outlook, 
but it is also a reversion to it. Inevitably, this view 
exalts established institutions, especially the authority 


Education for Democracy in Our Time 

of the state. Under fascism the state is everything; 
the individual is only an instrument of the state. 

According to the democratic, experimental, and scien- 
tific view, institutions and laws are to be judged by the 
extent to which they serve human needs, by their 
operational effects. The individual is the end, not the 
instrument of government. Authority is resident in the 
people. The authors of our Declaration of Independence 
were, in fact, giving expression to this view when they 

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are 
created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with 
certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, 
and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights 
Governments are constituted among Men, deriving their 
just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever 
any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, 
it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and insti- 
tute new Government, laying its foundations on such prin- 
ciples, and organizing its powers in such form as to them shall 
seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. 

If the absolutist philosophy prevails, all values and 
laws of conduct will be imposed in economics, in politics, 
in social relationships, in morals and religion. The peoples 
of the Western world should know this system that, 
carried to its logical conclusion, reduces the ordinary 
individual to an automaton, for the Western world has 
been struggling for centuries to free itself from this 
system. If the democratic philosophy prevails, policies 
will be developed in all areas of life in the light of experi- 
ence and of human needs, for this view emphasizes the 
worth and dignity of human personality. It is the way of 
science and of democracy. 

The conflict between these two intellectual systems is 
an irreconcilable one. There is every reason to believe 


The Nature of the Social Crisis 

that this conflict will continue until the authoritarian 
system has been completely overthrown or is completely 
victorious, through brute force, for it is inconceivable 
that man will not continue to love and to seek liberty, 
freedom, and security, or will easily surrender these 
values of civilization. It is conceivable that a victory 
for fascism might plunge the world into another dark 
age. Let us not be deceived as to the issues at stake in 
the conflict between authoritarianism and democracy. 
This is the intellectual crisis that grips the contemporary 

The Crisis in American Democracy 

The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries saw the es- 
tablishment of political democracy. Nowhere were social 
and political democracy more fully realized than in the 
United States. In the twentieth century the struggle for 
democracy is being waged fiercely on the economic front. 
Unless democracy can restore economic security to the 
people, unless productive processes can be made to 
serve the interests of all, democracy is done for. The 
struggle is no longer primarily for political rights for 
the individual but for economic security. Wherever the 
forces of reaction and of economic privilege are victorious, 
the political rights of the individual are destroyed. 

It would be misleading to suggest that the issues are 
always clear, that the individual is always conscious of 
whether he is working for the common good or against 
it, or that the actual purposes and tendencies of the 
various organized groups or of the various social classes 
or interests are always clear to the individuals that 
compose them. But the array of forces for and against 
the democratic ideal is, nevertheless, perfectly clear. 
Arrayed against democracy today are all those forces 
striving to maintain the economic status quo. It is essen- 

[ 35 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

tially a relatively small group in our society that owns 
or controls most of the productive, industrial, and busi- 
ness wealth of the country, that opposes needed economic 
changes. The middle class is confused and divided in its 
sympathies, but the status quo is defended by many 
members of this class who still have faith in their own 
future under the existing economy and each of whom 
hopes some day to become a capitalist. The defenders 
of democracy are, on the other hand, largely drawn 
from this same middle class and from the ranks of wage 

As we have said, individuals are often unaware of the 
parts they play. Many persons of wealth are devoted 
to philanthropy and social betterment, and many are 
intelligent about economic problems and prepared to 
make sacrifices for the common good. But in general 
this group resists social and economic changes. Lundberg 
has shown in his study of sixty American families the 
immense economic power wielded by this tiny group 
of persons. Of even greater significance is the study of the 
power and influence of one family in one community, 
the "X" family described in Middletown in Transition 
by Robert and Helen Lynd. 1 The Lynds show how the 
influence and interests of a family of great wealth per- 
meate and largely shape every activity, industrial, 
business, educational, religious, social, of a community. 

That there is a class structure in American society is a 
fact that cannot be questioned. According to Hacker 
in The United States A Graphic History, there were 
reported in 1929 about 631,000 family incomes of more 
than $10,000 in the United States. Allowing one income 
to a family, this number represented roughly 2.3 per 
cent of American families. It is true that many of the 

1 Robert S. and Helen Merrill Lynd, Middletown in Transition, Har- 
court Brace, 1937. 


The Nature of the Social Crisis 

earlier advocates of democracy, like Jefferson, Paine, 
and Mann, looked forward to a society without classes, 
at least without classes in the European sense, but 
American society has always had its class lines. After 
the Revolution, when land was still abundant and eco- 
nomic opportunities were plentiful, class lines were less 
evident, at least outside the South, than ever before in 
a culture so advanced. The social equality that char- 
acterized American society of a hundred years ago 
greatly impressed such discerning European students 
and observers as Tocqueville and Beaumont. But with 
the development of the closely integrated economy of 
today, with the increasing concentration of wealth in 
a relatively few hands, class lines are again growing 
sharper. Stratification is, of course, almost entirely 
along economic lines. The psychology of the American 
people is still overwhelmingly democratic and equali- 
tarian in outlook and sympathy, and Americans generally 
are not conscious of class. Defined in terms of freehold 
farmers or independent small entrepreneurs, the his- 
toric middle class which has been the very backbone 
of American democracy seems to be declining in numbers. 
However, if professional and white-collar workers are 
considered as constituting a genuine middle class regard- 
less of ownership of productive property, then this class 
still has great vitality. But, again, its psychology is 
increasingly one of doubt and fear. It lacks the confidence 
of earlier times. Then, too, there must be set over against 
this group the one-third of the nation that, in the words 
of the President, are " ill-clothed, ill-fed, and ill-housed, " 
and as this is written, no less than eight million workers 
are still unemployed. The New York Times for Sunday, 
Apr. 2, 1939, reported a survey of conditions in urban 
communities by the Institute of Public Opinion which 


Education for Democracy in Our Time 

1. That one person in every five among those interviewed 
would [if unemployed] have to look to the government for 
relief within a month's time or even sooner. This would mean, 
for example, a doubling of the country's present relief load 
by May, if all such persons lost their jobs today. 

2. That another large group could hold out for some period 
between a month and six months. 

3. That those two groups, plus those now on relief, amount 
to 52 per cent of the country's working population in cities 
and towns. 

The continuance of such a state of affairs is a menace 
to every democratic ideal. 1 

The problem of the twentieth century is, then, the 
problem of the control of the economy in the interests 
of all the people. It is a continuation of the old struggle 
of the people against economic privilege. In this struggle 
political democracy is a powerful weapon. But political 
democracy has been overthrown in most of the countries 
of Europe. There is every reason to believe that democ- 
racy is coming rapidly to its supreme test in this country, 
as in every other country in which it still exists. 2 

The outcome will to a considerable extent be deter- 
mined by the kind of education that is afforded Ameri- 
cans, young and old. Although the schools cannot build 
a new social order, the contribution of education is 
vital. But before we enquire what a program of educa- 
tion for democracy today would be, it is essential to 
consider what is possible and what desirable in American 
life in the future and to examine the problem of ends 
and means. 

1 For important discussions of the problems and status of social classes 
in the United States today the reader is referred to Lewis Corey, The 
Crisis of the Middle Class, Covici-Friede, 1935; Alfred M. Bingham, 
Insurgent America, Harper, 1935. 

2 For a most realistic and illuminating analysis of our assets and 
liabilities in our fight for the preservation of democracy see George S. 
Counts, Prospects of American Democracy, John Day, 1938. 

[38 ] 



THE United States is favored in the struggle to pre- 
serve democracy and to realize its potentialities. 
As yet, authoritarianism has prevailed only in those 
countries without natural or technical resources ade- 
quate to their needs and with cultural and political 
backgrounds different from those of the more democratic 
countries. These are facts of supreme importance in the 
crisis that confronts this generation. So far as resources 
are concerned, fascism need not happen here. But if 
Americans are to employ their resources wisely, they 
must know what they are. 

Cultural and Human Resources 

Americans of today are the heirs of the culture of the 
entire Western world. It is true that in the migration to 
and settlement in a new country thousands of miles 
away, and particularly in the extension of the settlements 
across the Alleghenies and into the West, much was 
forgotten, and there was a genuine loss of culture. How- 
ever, some of that which was forgotten or consciously 
left behind or that proved unadaptable to the new con- 
ditions was better lost. Similarly, much of value that was 
lost was later recovered and enriched in the new world. 

English customs and political institutions were trans- 
planted to American soil, for the first settlers of what is 

[ 39 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

now the United States were predominantly English. 
Americans are, then, the heirs of the long struggle of 
the English for political liberty. They are the heirs of 
Magna Carta, of the parliamentary system, of all those 
institutions of jurisprudence and of local self-govern- 
ment that had been developing on English soil for more 
than a thousand years. Under American conditions the 
pattern of development was, of course, different in 
important respects from the later development in the 
mother country. In many respects conditions here were 
more favorable to the growth of democratic institutions. 
The feudal system with its social castes never really took 
root in American soil. 

Many of the early colonists came seeking freedom from 
religious or political oppression or escape from the hard 
economic conditions of the middle and lower classes in 
the Europe of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. 
The Puritans were, of course, intolerant and autocratic 
enough in their own theocracy, but they were, at the same 
time, religious and political dissenters. It is significant 
that Roger Williams and others were advocates of com- 
plete religious tolerance and also of genuine social 
equality and political democracy. The early colonists 
included the Quakers, advocates of peace and toleration, 
the Catholics, who sought a refuge in Maryland and 
established almost complete religious toleration there, 
the Lutherans, Mennonites, Huguenots, and others 
who came to escape religious or political persecution in 
continental countries. These latter brought with them 
much of French and German culture. In time French 
Louisiana and Spanish Florida were included within our 
boundaries. Although the English, Dutch, Germans, 
French, and Scandinavians made up more than nine- 
tenths of the population of the original colonies, other 
European countries were represented. 

[40 ] 

The Promise of American Life 

The frontier was a school for democracy. Only recently 
have we begun to understand, through the researches 
and interpretations of Frederick J. Turner and others, 
the extent to which the frontier moulded American life 
and institutions. The frontier has been called a mighty 
leveler. It tested the courage and perseverance of men 
and valued the individual for what he was and what he 
could do rather than for the prestige of his family. The 
frontier demanded and fostered industry, initiative, 
independence of judgment and action. It also required 
cooperation. Log rollings, corn huskings, barn raisings, 
and quilting bees, as well as loneliness and isolation, 
characterized frontier life. The neighbors had to unite 
for the performance of many essential tasks. " Swapping " 
work was a necessity. Defense compelled unity and con- 
certed action on many occasions. 

A great mythology has grown up about the frontier. 
According to this mythology, the frontier fostered 
" rugged individualism/' and because of that fact 
" rugged individualism " is one of our sacred virtues. 
The truth is that the frontiersman was a realist because 
he lived in a world of hard necessities as well as one of 
boundless opportunities. He applied the pragmatic test 
to laws and institutions. If they served individual needs 
and the interests of the community, they were good; 
if not, he believed it was his right to "alter, or abolish" 
them, and he said as much in his Declaration of Inde- 
pendence in 1776. The frontier tended to develop men 
who were unafraid to express their convictions and to 
act on them. It had precious little respect for mere 
respectability. A fact that is too commonly overlooked 
is that the frontier was a school for cooperation for the 
common good which is a fundamental principle of democ- 
racy. And this trait is today deeply ingrained in the 
American people and is one of their greatest assets. 

[41 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

The frontier nourished that naturalness and direct- 
ness in social contact, that informality and genuine 
social democracy which is today characteristic of the 
American people at their best. Friendliness, helpfulness, 
resourcefulness counted for much. Largely as a result of 
frontier influences, class distinctions are less marked 
today in America than in older countries. Most men of 
wealth sincerely pride themselves on being democratic, 
and it is beyond question true that Americans, almost 
without exception, do believe in democracy, though they 
would by no means always agree as to its meaning and 
implications today. There is a strong feeling in this 
country that one man is "as good as another, if not a 
little better/' as the saying goes. Americans have never 
experienced to any great extent those feelings of defer- 
ence that are characteristic of the less privileged classes 
in more sharply stratified societies. This, too, is a price- 
less element in our heritage and one we are in danger of 

The American People Today 

During the nineteenth century approximately thirty- 
four million immigrants landed on our shores. In the 
early decades of the century the British Isles continued 
to supply most of these immigrants. In the forties and 
fifties there was a great migration of the Irish, who 
brought with them capacity for hard work, their char- 
acteristic Irish humor and optimism, and a spirit of 
independence that had been nurtured in the long struggle 
against English rule. After 1848 conditions in Germany 
resulted in an extensive migration of Germans, including 
many of those who had fought for freedom in the revolu- 
tion of that year, choice spirits such as Carl Schurz. 
These exiles brought the best of German culture. Immedi- 
ately preceding and following the Civil War there was a 

[ 42 ] 

The Promise of American Life 

large migration of Scandinavians, especially to Wiscon- 
sin, Minnesota, and other states of the Northwest a 
sturdy stock, lovers of freedom, coming from countries 
advanced in democracy and richly endowed culturally. 
In this period Czechs, Slovaks, and Poles began to 
settle not only in the industrial regions but in the plains 
states, bringing with them memories of an age-old 
struggle for freedom. Willa Gather's My Antonia por- 
trays vividly some of the spiritual values that the Bohe- 
mians, for example, brought to American life. 

Until this time migration to America had been largely 
from the Northern European countries, but toward the 
close of the century immigration from Southern and 
Eastern Europe Italy, Hungary, Poland, Russia, and 
the Balkan states began and rose to its high tide in the 
first two decades of the new century. However, with 
the closing of the frontier and the steady advance of 
technology, the demand for labor began to slacken, to 
be renewed feverishly during the war years. Because of 
the severe restrictions placed on immigration after the 
war, the numbers coming to our shores have since been 
negligible. But American life had been enriched by those 
who had come from Southern and Western Europe. 
America has indeed been a melting pot. The process has 
been in many ways painful, but who can doubt that in 
this crucible a great race and culture are being fused? 

Included in our population are many from other races 
and cultures, of which the Negroes are the largest group. 
The presence of the Negro has created a complex social 
problem, but has, at the same time, added much to 
the richness of American life. The culture of the abori- 
gines, the American Indians, has also left its impress on 
the people, added much that is positive, much that is 
interesting and colorful. Included, too, are representatives 
of almost all the ancient cultures of the East. In a 

[43 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

peculiar sense we are, then, the cultural heirs of the 
whole world. 

The United States is now approaching the time when 
its population will cease to grow. For many decades the 
birth rate has been falling, and the rate of population 
increase has declined despite the reduction in the death 
rate that modern medicine and sanitation have brought 
about. Supporting their statements with comprehensive 
data, students of the problem tell us that the population 
of the country will be stabilized at possibly 170,000,000 
long before the close of the century, probably by 1960 
or 1970. After that there may be an actual decline. 

The economic and social effects of the stabilization 
of population are bound to be far-reaching, though, of 
course, it is impossible to foresee them except in broadest 
outline. Relative to the total population, there will be 
fewer children and youth to educate. Already the decline 
in enrollment has begun in the elementary school. The 
problem of providing social security for the older adults 
may become more, or less, difficult. Will a population so 
predominantly adult be more, or less, inclined toward 
social experimentation? Of one thing we may be sure. 
The resources for the support of our people are more than 
abundant, for this country could, with efficient use of 
technical processes in agriculture and industry, support a 
population three times as large as the present population. 

Natural Resources 

Those who settled in what is now the United States 
came into possession of the richest domain on the face 
of the earth. The greater part of our country lies in that 
thermal zone which the geographers say has proved the 
most stimulating and favorable natural environment for 
man. This country, with the exception of the great plains 
and the arid regions of the West, was once clothed with 

[ 44 ] 

The Promise of American Life 

the most magnificent and valuable forest ever known. 
The fertility of the soil, both in the cleared forest and 
in the vast prairie region, was not exceeded anywhere. 
Even after a century of ruthless waste and terrific soil 
erosion, the Mississippi Valley is, beyond question, still 
the most productive agricultural region in the world. 
This new country offered to the settlers mighty mountains 
and rivers, magnificent and varied scenery, and a climate 
ranging from the semitropical to the north temperate. 
The waters of thousands of miles of coast line and of 
the great inland fresh-water seas and the rivers abounded 
in fish of almost innumerable variety. No country was 
richer in large and small game. Beneath our soil is 
found in abundance nearly all the minerals essential to 
modern industrial processes, and the deficiencies can 
nearly all be supplied from American sources. Despite 
the ignorant and too often greedy and selfish waste of 
more than three centuries, most of this heritage still 
remains or is recoverable if prompt and decisive action 
is taken in the next generation. The growing interest 
in the need to conserve our soil, forests, minerals, and 
wild life through reforestation and other measures is 
one of the most hopeful signs in American life in our 
time. Of all the countries in the world the United States 
is the most nearly economically self-contained. Only 
Russia approaches us in the richness and variety of its 
natural endowment and in the possibility of a self- 
contained economy. 


Only England and Germany equal the United States 
in the realm of applied science and efficiency of tech- 
nological processes. If Germany leads in chemical indus- 
tries and England in textiles and shipbuilding, the United 
States leads in the techniques of mass production, so well 

[ 45 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

illustrated in the automobile industry. The great indus- 
tries of the country today maintain extensive research 
laboratories. No country is so highly mechanized. For 
example, there were in 1936 twenty-eight million auto- 
mobiles in use in this country, or 80 per cent of all the 
automobiles in the world, and eighteen and a half 
million telephone installations, or 60 per cent of all the 
telephones in the world. 

The United States already has an industrial plant 
capable of supplying its people with the commodities 
needed for a much higher standard of living than even 
this country has known. The possibilities of expanding 
this plant seem almost unlimited. In this age of electric 
power the invention of new laborsaving machines and 
processes goes on at a rapid pace, even in the years of 
depression. The people are mechanically minded and 
highly skilled in the operation of machinery. The import- 
ance of this as a national asset is apparent if we note 
the efforts of the Russians to acquire these same skills. 

The national income was about ninety billion dollars 
in 1929. The Brookings Institution study, America's 
Capacity to Produce, found that twenty-nine branches 
of manufactures, "including industries with very low 
operating ratios as well as several showing high utiliza- 
tion/' produced to only 81 per cent of their capacity that 
most prosperous year. If our industrial plant had been 
operated at full capacity, the national income would, 
according to this study, have been increased by fifteen 
billion dollars, an increase that would have enabled us to 
add goods and services to an amount of $765, on the 
1929 level, to the consumer gratification of every family 
having an income of $2,500 or less that year. According 
to the study made in 1935 by Harold Loeb and others, 
reported in The Chart of Plenty, American farms and 
industries operated at full capacity in 1929 could have 


The Promise of American Life 

produced a national income of forty-two billion dollars 
more than was produced, " sufficient to remove destitu- 
tion and the fear of destitution from every citizen, with- 
out taking away from the fortunate 8 per cent possessing 
in 1929 incomes of $5,000 or more per family. In fact 
these fortunate few could have enjoyed more comfort 
than they did enjoy, as well as a sense of security which 
at present is non-existent." 1 The technocrats asserted 
that if the most efficient use were made of our scientific 
and technical knowledge and skill, an income equivalent 
to $15,000 or more annually could be made available 
to every American family. If such estimates enter the 
realm of the fantastic, the figures of the Brookings 
Institution and of the Chart of Plenty are just as surely 

So far as natural resources and technology are con- 
cerned, an "economy of abundance" that would provide 
economic security for all is, then, a possibility in the 
United States. This is not to say that it is easy to achieve. 
The problems that have to be solved to attain this goal 
are problems of the greatest magnitude and complexity. 
But these are no longer so much technological problems 
as moral, social, economic, and political problems. 

Political and Educational Resources 

Does the United States have the political and intel- 
lectual resources to surmount the economic, political, 
and moral barriers to the realization of these potentiali- 
ties, without surrender to a dictatorship? It is possible, 
of course, that an American version of dictatorship 
might, for a period of time, increase the economic 
efficiency of the country. Indeed, that is one of the 
gravest dangers in the present situation. Democratic 
institutions have been in many ways inefficient here, as 

1 Harold Loeb and associates, The Chart of Plenty, Viking Press, 1935. 


Education for Democracy in Our Time 

in other countries. It remains to be seen whether democ- 
racy can solve the problem of the intelligent formulation 
and the prompt and efficient execution of policies essen- 
tial to the solution of the economic problems of an 
industrial society. 

That our democratic traditions and democratic insti- 
tutions still have great vitality cannot be questioned. 
This statement is true for local government, where the 
spirit of invention has not died out, as indicated by the 
development of the commission and city-manager forms 
of municipal government. The successful fight of the 
Fusion forces for honest government in New York City 
under Mayor La Guardia, as evidenced by the adoption 
of a new charter and his reelection in 1937, is encouraging. 
The record of social legislation in many states, notably 
in Wisconsin, is also most significant. Under the leader- 
ship of Senator Norris, Nebraska has adopted a unicam- 
eral legislature, thus breaking a tradition many had 
thought sacred. The people in both states and nation 
have done much to curb the evils of unrestrained indi- 
vidualism. Much imagination and ingenuity were dis- 
played by the Roosevelt administration in dealing with 
the great depression, though no consistent policy based 
on economic and political realities and possibilities has 
as yet been constructed. In these latter years it has been 
demonstrated that even the Supreme Court can be made 
sensitive to the needs of the people and the social trends 
of the times. 

The people have shown capacity for the development 
of voluntary organizations for coping with economic 
problems and for the accomplishment of democratic 
political purposes. Though unfortunately divided at 
this time, organized labor has clearly demonstrated that 
it can be a constructive force in our economic and social 
life. Likewise, the farmers are learning the lessons 


The Promise of American Life 

of economic organization. The cooperative movement is 
growing both in the cities and among the farmers. 
Although the socialist parties have always been numeri- 
cally weak, they have nevertheless exerted much influ- 
ence. Each of the major parties now has a powerful and 
determined progressive wing, operating wholly within the 
American democratic tradition. 

Of equal importance are the agencies of communica- 
tion and education. First-hand experience with European 
papers as well as with our own can leave no doubt that 
America has the best newspapers in the world, even 
if it does have, at the same time, some of the worst. 
We have our staunch defenders of civil liberties, and, 
despite many lamentable instances of denial, as in Jersey 
City in recent years, there is still freedom of speech and 
assembly in the United States. We still have serious 
problems of racial prejudice and discrimination, but we 
have nothing approaching the anti-Semitism of fascist 

Perhaps the most unique of American institutions is 
our system of public popular education with the "one 
educational ladder" extending from the kindergarten 
to the university. Today the realities and critical prob- 
lems of our political and economic life are beginning to 
be studied by youth in these schools and by adults in 
the public forums now being conducted in many com- 
munities as a part of this educational system. It is 
doubtful whether in any other democratic country more 
thought is being given to the role of education in the 
preservation and realization of democracy. 

In the defense of democracy, then, we have resources 
that were lacking in Germany and Italy or in Russia. 
In no country is the democratic ideal so deeply ingrained. 
In no country has there been less of class division. In no 
country is there greater freedom of speech or of press. 

[ 49 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

No country with a long experience with democracy has 
as yet gone fascist. Our democratic institutions and 
democratic traditions still have great vitality. We have 
shown in the last decade that we are still capable of 
political and economic invention. We have developed 
the most extensive and comprehensive free school 
system. We still have vast natural resources, and our 
technology is in many ways the most advanced of any 

Conflicting American Traditions 

American traditions constitute one of the most stub- 
born and potent realities of the contemporary scene. 
In many instances these traditions are in conflict one 
with another. The tradition of economic individualism, 
for example, is at many points in conflict with the tradi- 
tion of democratic cooperation. These traditions include 
a spirit of lawlessness, of ruthless exploitation and greed, 
of interference with civil rights whenever it pleases 
certain groups so to interfere. These traditions include 
an inordinate worship of material success, of all things 
big, especially of the big and successful industrialist. 
But American traditions also include all the traits and 
habits of political and social democracy to which we have 
already referred. Touch the typical American on one 
side and you find a conservative, but touch him on the 
other side and you will in all probability find a radical. 
He may be so inconsistent as to believe, at one and the 
same time, that our natural resources should be protected 
and controlled even where the ownership is private, even 
perhaps that the government should own everything 
beneath the surface of the earth and yet that it should 
not in any way interfere in business. It is evident that 
not all American traditions are resources; some are 
liabilities. But the habits of intellectual and of political 


The Promise of American Life 

independence and of social cooperation are strong within 

Beset as they are by difficult economic and political 
problems, the people of the United States still hold within 
their possession the potentialities of the good life, every- 
thing essential for the fulfillment of the American dream 
of freedom, security, and happiness. The question is, 
how will these potentialities be employed in the future? 
That is a problem in politics and education that brings 
us to a consideration of ends and means. 

[51 ] 



Two basic problems confront the contemporary 
world the problems of liberty and equality, or of 
liberty and of economic security for the individual. That 
equality is the foundation of liberty is an inescapable 
conclusion from social history. When men are not eco- 
nomically secure, they cannot be politically and socially 
free. So long as millions of Americans are unable to find 
employment, so long as 42 per cent of the families with 
incomes of less than $1,500 receive only 13 per cent of the 
national income, whereas at the other end of the social 
scale less than one-fourth of 1 per cent of the families 
receive 14.8 per cent of the national income, our demo- 
cratic institutions are in grave danger. This is a problem 
for education, for the people must understand the causes 
of conditions if they are to deal with them effectively. 
We must, then, reexamine the problem of liberty. 

It is true that all government means a curtailment of 
individual liberty, though it is equally true that restric- 
tion on the liberties of some members of society has 
always meant an increase of liberty for others. When 
the robber barons of the Middle Ages were restrained, 
this restraint meant security and thus more liberty for 
the traveler and trader. When the political and economic 
revolutions of the latter part of the eighteenth century 
curbed the liberties, that is, the power, of king and 

[ 52 ] 

Means and Ends 

fedual lord, that repression meant an increase of liberty 
for merchants and manufacturers. The overthrow of these 
old regimes likewise meant an increase of political and 
therefore of economic power, that is, of liberty, for the 
common man. It is significant that it was necessary to 
appeal to the rights of the common man to achieve 
this revolution. To come nearer home, it is a curtailment 
of a man's liberty to prevent him from building a soap 
factory on the public square, but it is also a protection 
of the liberties of others. Liberty is a relative thing, and 
so is equality. To talk about a " sphere of liberty" as 
though a realm of absolute liberty exists, or of a " sphere 
of law," as though law is not an essential of liberty, is but 
to confuse issues. Equality and liberty are dependent one 
upon the other. 1 

When there was a wide distribution of productive 
property in the United States, as in the Jacksonian 
period, equality and genuine individual liberty were more 
widespread than they have been since that time. The 
advent of the Industrial Revolution and the factory 
system brought into existence a large class of industrial 
wage earners who own no productive property, have little 
control over their own jobs, nothing to sell but their 
labor. To the man who owns no property, who is entirely 
dependent on daily wages for his daily bread, and who 
can find no work to support himself and his family, 
political equality may mean but little. It must have been 
primarily of this man that T. V. Smith was thinking when 
he wrote: 

As the voter walks into the polling booth and sweats over 
a hundred names hardly less familiar to him than the duties 
of the offices they seek, he mutters to himself: "Is this liberty? 

1 For a penetrating discussion of this problem and for a somewhat 
different interpretation of the issues involved the reader is referred to 
Liberty and Equality by William F. Russell, Macmillan, 1936. 

[53 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

Is this equality? Is this fraternity?" Yes; equality for an 
hour, liberty to gesticulate with a pencil in the dark, fraternity 
with those who share his plight. 1 

The establishment of political equality of the principles 
of government by consent, of manhood suffrage, of one 
man, one vote, was one of man's greatest achievements. 
Political equality is endangered today because so many 
men find themselves without economic security and 
economic power. 

Proposals for Security 

The struggle that is being waged in the modern w r orld 
is, above all, a struggle for the control of economic power 
both between nations and within nations. It is out of 
this struggle that the political and intellectual crises arise. 
The principal defenders of things as they are are naturally 
those groups in society to whom the existing conditions 
afford a comfortable status and hope of continued security. 
The authoritarian may be a last-ditch defender of the 
status quo or a proponent of radical change. 

There is a general recognition on the part of all parties 
that the security of any political regime depends on a 
modicum of economic security and welfare for the 
masses. Various proposals are advanced for bringing 
about a functioning of our economy efficient enough to 
ensure political stability. These may be classified for 
our purposes, and, I think logically, into five categories. 
It is essential for educators to understand them. 

1. The first is called capitalism under the delusion 
that the present economic system approximates in 
principles and practice the economy described by Adam 
Smith a century and a half ago. This system assumes a 

1 Thomas Vernor Smith, The Democratic Way of Life, University of 
Chicago Press, 1926. 


Means and Ends 

free market and free competition. It also assumes private 
ownership of the instruments of production and dis- 
tribution and profit as the motivating forces in the 
economy, both of which do obtain at the present time, 
although the nature of ownership has been profoundly 
modified by corporate forms. The element of competition 
has been greatly reduced in most sectors by the growth 
of giant commercial and industrial enterprises under the 
modern corporation. This situation has resulted in 
government regulation. But powerful economic interests 
have been able to influence government, and often to 
control it so as to defeat the public interest, to prevent 
essential regulation, and actually to gain favors. In 
fact, then, the uncompromising advocates of " capi- 
talism" are not simply defending the economic status 
quo with all its brutal injustices and inefficiency, its 
inability to provide work or to produce to capacity. 
They would turn the clock back by freeing business from 
most of existing regulation. As James Madison pointed 
out long ago, party is always based on economic interest, 
and today it is primarily those who benefit by the existing 
system who are fighting to prevent further changes in 
it. The ideologists and apologists for this reactionary 
economic and political philosophy hold that the state 
should exercise only police power, should not dislocate 
the economy by attempts to regulate it. 

2. Many persons, however, who believe in private own- 
ership and profit also recognize the inexorable trend 
toward a controlled economy. They would retain private 
ownership and profit but would modify both these princi- 
ples by instituting more extensive regulation and rationali- 
zation through planning and by increasing the part played 
by government in the economy. This school of thought 
shades off in one direction toward historic capitalism 
and in the other toward socialism. The more liberal wing 

[ 55 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

of this party favors some collective ownership, especially 
in the field of municipal utilities, of power and even of 
railroads and other "sick" industries. Advocates of this 
reformed and transformed capitalism would protect labor 
in its right to organize and bargain collectively. They 
likewise favor an adequate program of social security. 
The New Deal looks in this direction. This is roughly the 
point of view of the progressive wings of both the old 
parties today, though some of these progressives (more 
exactly, insurgents) have looked backward in the fond 
but unrealistic hope that through antitrust legislation 
monopolies can be broken up and competition and the 
wide distribution of ownership characteristic of an earlier 
period of our history restored. This progressive school of 
thought is really carrying on the tradition of Andrew 
Jackson and Thomas Jefferson, whose concern was that 
government should protect and promote the interests 
of the common man and to that end, that government 
should not be controlled by vested financial interests. 
According to this view, what is needed now is reform, 
regulation, planning, government investment in housing 
and public works, the extension of social services, and 
some experimentation with collective ownership of essen- 
tial public services on the "yardstick" principle. 

The proponents of this view also strongly favor the 
development of producers' and consumers' cooperatives. 
Indeed, it is the view of many that the development of 
cooperatives on a wide scale in all sectors of the economy 
offers the most practical solution of our economic and 
social problems. In a very real sense this movement, 
which looks in the direction of a cooperative common- 
wealth, may be regarded as a distinctive proposal for 
economic reconstruction. 

3. The third school, the socialist, holds that produc- 
tion should be for use and not for profit and advocates 


Means and Ends 

as the only permanent solution of our difficulties collec- 
tive ownership of all the principal instruments of produc- 
tion and distribution. The socialists would thus break the 
grip of the relatively small group that owns the great 
industries of our economy. In this way they would 
restore ownership, and thus control, to the people, for 
they contend that control of these functions can be 
exercised only through collective ownership. Reform of 
economic individualism, or capitalism, is, therefore, no 
solution. As the reader knows, there are important differ- 
ences of view among socialists. For example, the guild 
socialists and syndicalists, fearing concentration of power 
in a central bureaucracy under state socialism, advocate 
the ownership and control of the various industries or 
services by the workers in them, with central planning 
and coordinating agencies. 

The socialists, or social democrats, accept in the main 
the Marxist interpretation of history and his class analy- 
sis of contemporary society. The socialists have preached 
the international solidarity and cooperation of the 
workers and have opposed economic nationalism and 
imperialism in all their forms. They are opposed to all 
"capitalist 7 ' wars. They believe in democracy and would 
rely on the institutions of political democracy, supple- 
mented by the development of collective forms such as 
cooperatives, for the gradual achievement of socialism. 
Trade-unionism would constitute the backbone of this 
movement. They abhor violent revolution but recognize 
the possibility of resistance by reactionary forces in 
society when the socialists, having come into control of 
the government through orderly democratic processes, 
undertake to introduce socialism. They hold that the 
power of the state, including the military and police 
powers, should then be employed to maintain order and 
carry out the mandate of the people expressed through 


Education for Democracy in Our Time 

the ballot. The social democratic parties achieved much 
influence in Western European countries prior to the 
war, and it was this party that organized the German 

4. To the left of the socialists are the communists, 
who would establish socialism as the first step toward a 
communistic society in which the state, which they 
regard merely as the instrument of power of the capi- 
talistic class, would wither away. The communists 
profess democracy as their goal but hold that the dic- 
tatorship of the proletariat is essential to the establish- 
ment of democracy. They point to history for support 
for their contention that no ruling class has ever given 
up its power without a struggle. According to Marxist 
theory, the key to understanding of economic and, there- 
fore, of political and cultural history is to be found in 
the " relations of production/' the sum total of which 
always constitutes the "economic structure of society." 
The relations of production are "the real foundations, 
on which rise legal and political superstructures and to 
which correspond definite forms of social consciousness." 
The interests of the two classes in capitalistic society, 
the owners and the workers, the exploited and the 
exploiters, are opposed and can never be reconciled. This 
opposition can only be resolved through socialism and 
then communism, which will profoundly modify all 
political and social institutions. 

After the Russian Revolution, the Communist party 
broke away from the Second International and formed 
the Third or Communist International, the secretariat of 
which, located at Moscow, is known as the Comintern. 
There have been important changes in the communistic 
"line" since that time. A principal tenet of communist 
theory originally was that the overthrow of the capitalist 
class and the establishment of a socialist society in 


Means and Ends 

every country, that is, " world revolution/' was essential 
to the security of a socialist or communist regime in 
any country. But with the ascendancy of Stalin the 
Russian Communist party was committed to the doc- 
trine of building socialism in one country. 

The communists would employ the institutions of 
liberalism and democracy, civil liberties and the ballot 
to further their purposes in the capitalistic countries, 
but the party has held consistently that the transition 
to socialism can come only through a revolutionary 
situation. Recent changes in the policy of the Comintern 
have been in the direction of emphasizing the impor- 
tance of maintaining democratic institutions, the so- 
called " popular front" policy, in the struggle against 
fascism. There is every reason to believe that the com- 
munist parties in all countries are controlled primarily 
by the exigencies of Russian foreign policy. 

5. The antithesis of democracy and of socialism is 
fascism. It is very important to understand the nature 
and program of fascism. Fascism, under whatever form 
or name it appears, seems to begin with an acceptance of 
private ownership of the instruments of production and 
the profit system, but it utterly rejects democracy and 
sets up in its stead the authoritarian or totalitarian 
state, in which all authority is wielded by an oligarchy 
exercising power through a military dictatorship. Fas- 
cism introduces an enormous measure of control and 
regimentation which, in the opinion of many, is bound 
to lead to fundamental changes in the economy and 
ultimately to some form of socialism. The capitalist 
classes in Germany and Italy accepted fascism re- 
luctantly, believing in their ignorance and fear the 
propaganda that fascism was the only alternative to 
communism that was available to them. Fascism has 
always arisen out of the struggle of the hard-pressed 


Education for Democracy in Our Time 

middle classes to rehabilitate themselves and is taken 
up by many of the "big bourgeoisie" as a last resort 
under the illusion that its only choice is between fascism 
and communism. The theory of fascism has arisen in the 
form of rationalizations of fails accomplis and has not 
as yet been fully developed. Fascism is a product of all 
the social forces and failures of the nineteenth century, 
of the accentuation in the countries in which it has arisen 
of the economic crisis described in the second chapter. 
It employs for social control the institutions developed 
by democracy, such as the schools, and in its plebiscites 
even claims to be democratic. Mussolini's corporate 
state providing for a central legislative body based on 
functional groups smacks of democracy. But fascism is 
thoroughly undemocratic, the last refuge of authori- 
tarianism and reaction. Under this system the state is 
exalted; the individual is merely the instrument of the 

In a very true sense we have now completed the circle 
in the examination of these proposals, for there is a close 
affinity between the fascists and the reactionary advo- 
cates of laissez faire who, when their privileges are 
threatened, do not hesitate to employ the power of the 
state to achieve their purposes. Indeed, the reactionaries 
fear the extension of democracy and, above all else, 
socialism. But they have never resisted government 
interference in business when business and industry 

The Problem of Method 

It is apparent that the crisis confronting the Western 
world involves disagreements concerning methods of 
effecting economic and social changes quite as funda- 
mental as disagreements concerning objectives. It is 


Means and Ends 

generally recognized that the economic impasse has to 
be resolved. But how? 

It will be observed that three of the proposals for 
security that have just been described are put forward 
by parties that accept the democratic method the 
capitalist, the reform-capitalist or progressive, and the 
socialist. 1 The United States is a capitalist democracy; 
but we must always bear in mind that pure capitalism 
does not exist anywhere, that in the United States 
many socialistic enterprises are carried on, such as the 
post office, the public-school system, the highways, and 
municipally owned utilities. In the United States both 
the Republican and Democratic parties, the Socialist 
party, and the parties in between accept the democratic 
method. And, in my opinion, it is an incontrovertible 
reality, however much it may be denied by the extreme 
Marxian parties, that the capitalist parties can and do 
believe in political democracy. Fascism employs the 
methods of authority and force and rejects liberalism 
completely. It rejects freedom of speech, assembly, and 
press, and all parliamentary institutions, though, as we 
have seen, it may on occasion pay a certain lip service to 
popular sovereignty. 2 The Communist party and certain 
other extreme left-wing sects, always at war with one 

1 Nominally there is no capitalist party in any of the democratic 
countries, but actually there are capitalist parties. Both the Republican 
and Democratic parties in the United States are capitalist parties, and 
there is little difference between them, for each has its conservative and 
progressive wings. The progressive parties are reform-capitalist. The 
conservative party of Great Britain is a capitalist party. The social 
democratic parties in Germany and Austria were "Fabian" socialist. 
The Labor party in Great Britain is a Fabian socialist party. 

2 The reader is referred to a chapter by Hans Kohn in Dictatorship 
in the Modern World, edited by Guy Stanton Ford, University of Minne- 
sota Press, 1935, for an illuminating analysis of fascist dictatorship and 
the respects in which it differs from historic autocracies and dictatorships 
and the ways in which it is related to the democratic movement of the 
last century. 

[61 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

another, want the protection of civil liberties but hold 
that the historic situation will develop to a point where 
revolution is inevitable. At that point a disciplined party 
that has been gradually fashioned and tested through 
the " class struggle " will establish the dictatorship of 
the proletariat. In the meantime, this party itself is 
conducted on principles that are not democratic. Theo- 
retically, discussion within the party may continue freely 
until the party line is established by vote, after which 
there must be absolute acceptance of and obedience to 
this line. Actually, decisions are imposed on the party 
by the party bureaucracy. The class struggle is the 
instrumentality that this party employs to accomplish its 
purpose and around which a whole theory and practice of 
strategy and tactics has been built up. Paradoxically, 
the communists would destroy democracy in order to 
achieve it. 

There are, of course, many shadings among the left 
and right parties described in the preceding sections and 
in the methods which they employ. The capitalist and 
social democratic, or socialist, parties accept the demo- 
cratic method, but this does not mean that all are com- 
mitted to the democratization of the economy. In the 
United States today, as in all democratic countries, a 
titantic struggle is going on between powerful interest 
groups. Those who are opposed to any important changes 
in our economic system, who would like to see less, not 
more, of government regulation arid ownership, control 
most of the economic resources of the country. These 
interests also largely control the principal agencies of 
communication the press, the radio, the moving pic- 
tures, and have resources to command the services of the 
ablest of propagandists. The modern metropolitan daily 
newspaper is a big business enterprise operated primarily 
for profit. Studies of the social composition of the boards 


Means and Ends 

of trustees of schools and higher institutions of learning 
have shown that their membership is drawn largely from 
this class. Labor unions, farmers' organizations, and 
various other organized civic groups and progressive 
and liberal political groups speak for a large section of 
wage earners, for the middle class in general. Labor 
unions have the advantage of large numbers, but they 
have been forced to carry on a long and bitter struggle 
for existence, a struggle that is never ended. Fascism, as 
set forth by Lawrence Dennis, who, in his Coming 
American Fascism j 1 frankly recognizes the struggle be- 
tween the people and privilege, between economic classes 
in our society, would give complete control to the elite 
in society, which means to the class that already exer- 
cises the major control through ownership of the principal 
instruments of production and distribution. 

What will be the outcome of this struggle? This is a 
question that must be faced squarely. It is difficult for 
the people to control our complex economy, even where 
political forms are democratic, even in countries with 
long experience with these forms. Can the method of 
democracy meet the supreme test that seems to be con- 
fronting it everywhere in the twentieth century? 

The Relation of Ends and Means 

In this discussion the desirability of the democratic 
way of life is assumed. No attempt will be made to 
demonstrate that men prefer freedom to any form of 
slavery. Our purpose is rather to examine, in the light 
of the democratic ideal, the meaning and significance of 
the choice of method that the American people must 
make and are making. This I do in the confident belief 
that the great majority of Americans will look with 

1 Lawrence Dennis, Coming American Fascism, Harper, 1936. 

[63 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

extreme disfavor on those methods that place democracy 
in jeopardy, once they understand the issues at stake 
and the problems involved. And again it should be 
emphasized that these are all fundamental problems of 
education, for one of the functions of education in a 
democracy is to inform men, and another is to provide 
those experiences for children and youth that will develop 
within them the capacities that a democracy requires of 
its citizens. 

This brings us squarely to the problem of the relation 
of ends and means in human affairs. It is obvious that 
the task to be performed determines the tools to be 
employed. The farmer does not select a plow with which 
to mow hay. This principle is just as valid in social life. 
Means must be appropriate to ends, for it is obvious 
that means condition ends. The processes of autocracy 
cannot be employed to achieve the purposes of democ- 
racy. In the end they will defeat those purposes. A school 
whose procedures are authoritarian and autocratic will 
only condition youth, and teachers, too, to acceptance 
of authority. An economic and political system that 
denies to large masses of individuals economic security, 
often the very right to work, that denies them any 
effective control over the economy, may eventually 
render them incapable of independence of action. A 
political party that does not practice democracy in the 
conduct of its own affairs cannot be a school for democ- 
racy. It is per contra inculcating the habits of submission 
to mere authority. The dictatorship of the proletariat 
may profess democracy as its objective, but the fact of 
dictatorship will control the ends achieved. The writer 
is aware of no evidence in the history of the last twenty 
years that autocracy leads to anything but more au- 
tocracy until such time as it may disintegrate and fall 
because it can no longer wield power. 

[ 64 ] 

Means and Ends 

These principles are illustrated by the brief and tragic 
history of the German republic. The German people 
had not had a long and extensive experience with demo- 
cratic forms. They had from time immemorial had more 
experience of autocracy and authority, less of inde- 
pendence of thought and action, less of participation in 
the making of policies. Despite their highly developed 
culture, their preeminence in science, their efficiency in 
business and government, an overweening respect for 
officialdom was characteristic of the people. After the 
revolution, the republic left the old civil service pretty 
much undisturbed and relied largely on the old judiciary, 
the old diplomatic corps, the old officer class in the army, 
with what results the world can now see. The administra- 
tion of the affairs of the republic was entrusted to men 
who knew and had been conditioned by methods of 
autocracy. Most of them did not believe much in democ- 
racy. The republic faltered. It was unable to deal effec- 
tively and promptly with the rising Nazis. Even Hitler's 
jailer in 1923 was a Nazi sympathiser. 

The writer was told by intellectuals in Russia in 1937 
that both democracy and dictatorship were growing 
stronger there. The dictatorship is supposed to protect 
the growing democracy. But this is a contradiction in 
terms. How can democracy grow stronger while dictator- 
ship prevails in important areas of life? According to the 
Webbs, there is considerable freedom in Russia for 
criticism in local Soviets and in trade-union meetings. 
But this freedom is strictly limited. The press is rigidly 
censored and controlled by the government, which, in 
turn, is under the effective control of the party. The 
people may not buy foreign papers. There is no genuine 
freedom of speech, no freedom publicly to criticize the 
government. At the end of twenty years, the state is not 
withering away but the dictatorship is more powerful 

[65 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

and ruthless than ever. There is no evidence of democracy 
within the party. What the exact conditions are in Russia, 
how long the present phase will last, what the final out- 
come will be, we cannot now know. Allowance must be 
made for the fact that only in this century have the 
Russian people had any experience with parliamentary 
government. But, with all possible allowances, the out- 
look for democracy in Russia in the near future does not 
seem bright ; it seems to grow darker. 

If a people are to establish democracy, they must 
progressively practice democracy. If democracy is to sur- 
vive in the United States, .the processes of democracy 
must be jealously guarded and practiced. When voting 
becomes a mere form that has little influence on policy 
because of the dominance of powerful forces that actually 
control the government in one way or another, democracy 
is in serious jeopardy. If the people are to control, they 
must control. Otherwise they will soon lose the power 
and the disposition to control. It remains to be seen 
what effect the methods of propaganda and censorship 
employed in the fascist countries will have on the people 
of those countries. There is evidence that they are losing 
all disposition and power to protest, for all political 
and economic life is a process of education. To come 
closer home, how can an American who, under our indus- 
trial and business system, works under direction all day 
and has no voice in controlling the policies of the enter- 
prise in which he is employed, develop the outlook, the 
capacities, and the habits that citizens of a democracy 
must have if democracy is to endure? Will he not rather 
lose these qualities? 

The old saying that as the twig is bent so is the tree 
inclined is true. The child who grows up in China be- 
comes a Chinese, not a Frenchman, nor an American, 
nor an American Indian, and the anthropologists have 

[ 66] 

Means and Ends 

shown beyond possibility of doubt that it is not the skin, 
not the biological inheritance that makes the difference 
but the interaction between the individual and his social 
environment; and the environment is the conditioning 
factor. Every individual is a product of the culture in 
which he grows to maturity. He is the product of his 

It follows that in a democracy all education, both in 
and out of the school, should be consciously designed to 
equip the individual for effective participation in a 
democratic society. The schools may be used and are 
employed in the authoritarian states to condition children 
and youth in habits of unquestioning obedience. The 
spirit that permeates and controls the school is, therefore, 
of paramount importance in a democracy, for the school 
is a means to an end, though education is also an end 
in itself. The means must not defeat the ends. 

It is, then, essential that we enquire further into the 
meaning of democracy today, for the first step in the 
development of a program of education for democracy 
must be understanding of its meaning in all areas of life 
in our time. 

The Meaning of Democracy 

The concept of democracy has been one of long evolu- 
tion. For its earliest beginnings we must go far back into 
antiquity, to the founders of the Christian religion, to 
the ancient Hebrews, to the Greek city state, and beyond. 
Democracy is more than a form of political government ; 
it is a moral and social conception and way of life. All 
aspects of life are involved. Belief in the worth and 
dignity of human personality is the foundation of the 
democratic idea. In the words of Theodore Roosevelt, 
in a democracy: 


Education for Democracy in Our Time 

We . . . believe: that human rights are vsupreme over all 
other rights; that wealth should be the servant and not the 
master of the people. We believe that when representative 
government does not absolutely represent the people it is 
not representative government at all. We test the worth of 
all men and all measures by asking how they contribute to 
the welfare of the men, women, and children of whom this 
nation is composed. We are engaged in one of the great battles 
of the age-long contest waged against privilege on behalf of 
the common welfare. 

Democracy has its own system of moral and social 
values. It emphasizes the brotherhood of man, coopera- 
tion and not selfishness. 

Democracy is government of, by, and for the people. 
This means not only government by consent but active 
participation by all citizens in the process. To this end 
freedom of discussion is essential. Political democracy, 
of course, takes many forms, depending on circumstances. 
The democracy of the Greek city state was a very direct 
democracy, but these states were small, and citizenship 
was limited, for the democracy rested on slavery. The 
town meeting met the needs of the small New England 
communities where every citizen could participate 
directly in the making of laws. In a large state or nation 
the device of representation must be used, based either on 
geography or on functional groups. In any event it is 
the people that is, their interests that must be repre- 
sented. Policy flows from the people. But this does not 
mean that there is no place for authority in a democracy. 
Authority is essential, but it must be exercised by the 
chosen representatives of the people, in their interests, 
and always under their control. 

Democracy has far-reaching economic implications for 
the modern world. Only free men can carry on a democ- 
racy, and, as we have seen, men who do not have eco- 

[ 68 ] 

Means and Ends 

nomic security and power are not free. Where such a 
state of affairs exists, authority is exercised by the forces 
that control the means of livelihood of men who have no 
economic freedom. A century ago, economic freedom 
meant economic individualism in the United States. 
The nature of our economy has so changed under eco- 
nomic individualism and industrialism that the problems 
of security now involve more of collective control and 
planning of many economic functions. 

Democracy accepts social change as a fact and believes 
in the possibility and desirability of social progress. 
The question is, how can social change be directed in the 
interests of all members of society? Democracy places its 
reliance on experience and tested knowledge. It is thor- 
oughly scientific and experimental in its outlook and 
method. This does not mean that long-term planning 
is impossible, but it does mean that planning should be 
based, as far as possible, on scientific data and that plans 
must always be subject to review in accordance with 
ways provided for by law, and open to criticism under 
the protection of the historic guarantees of civil liberty. 

Democracy is, therefore, a positive and dynamic con- 
ception and way of life involving every aspect of a cul- 
ture. It is not just the middle way, not merely the line 
of least resistance, not just a balancing of great social 
forces or the achievement of an equilibrium in society. 

Education for Social Reconstruction 

The analysis that we have made of the causes and 
nature of the social crisis, of the possibilities of American 
life, of the problem of method, and of the nature of 
democracy enables us to form some judgments as to the 
nature of the economic and social changes required by 
democracy in the United States as regards both objec- 
tives and procedures. It is only in the light of some such 

[ 69 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

conception that education can perform its rightful tasks 
in this critical period, for education should prepare men 
to cope intelligently and effectively with the problems 
of their time. This does not involve teaching of a detailed 
blue print for the new social order. An unalterable blue 
print would be inconsistent with the purposes of democ- 
racy, and to teach such a blue print would violate the 
principles of education in a democracy. If such a detailed 
blue print were possible or desirable, it would not be the 
peculiar function of educators to prepare it, though teach- 
ers must share in the making of economic and political 
policy in a democracy. But to say that the schools are 
not to teach the blue prints of a new order is not to say 
that education has no concern for the shape of the society 
of the future or is without guidance as to the nature of 
the changes that must be effected. Above all, it is es- 
sential to know the necessities and possibilities in the 
situation, for democracy need not be at the mercy of 
blind chance. Education must be concerned both with the 
process of effecting changes and with the purposes to 
be achieved. Otherwise, education will be aimless and 

The Problem of Economic and Social 
Planning and Control 

Two words that stir deep emotions today are the 
words "collectivism" and "planning." Walter Lippmann, 
in his recent book, The Good Society, after tracing the 
growing trend toward collectivism since about 1870, 
asserts, "A collect! vist society can exist only under an 
absolute state." 1 Mr. Lippmann would have us turn back 
to early nineteenth century liberalism. Mr. Lippmann 
further asserts that a planned society is possible only 
under war conditions under a military regime. It is 

1 Walter Lippmann, The Good Society, Little Brown, 1937. 


Means and Ends 

impossible, he says, for any planning board to foresee 
and provide for all the myriad wants of people in an 
advanced culture. Here we agree, but the point is irrele- 
vant, for such detailed control of the life of the people 
is not an essential of planning. Planning should, on the 
contrary, aim to give more people more choices. Mr. 
J ippmann does recognize the trend toward collectivism in 
the capitalist democracies through the development of 
the giant corporate enterprise and regulatory measures 
of various kinds. And what is his remedy for the plight 
of our economy? Regulation through law! This remedy 
certainly involves planning, some conception of the 
"good society," and measures for achieving it. But at 
no point does Mr. Lippmann make a realistic analysis 
of the powerful vested economic interests in a society in 
which a few hundred men control nearly half of industry 
in a nation of 130,000,000 people, as in the United States 
today. 1 

What reason is there to suppose that the economic 
system that prevailed in the first half of the last century 
in the premachine age could be restored in all its pristine 
purity, assuming that any one would desire to restore it, 
any more than that the feudalism of the thirteenth cen- 
tury could be brought back to life in France? There is 
none. History does not repeat itself in that fashion. It 
would be as easy to rid ourselves of all science and ma- 
chinery. The very division of labor that Mr. Lippmann 
says is characteristic of our society stands in the way 
of a return to an economy based on the self-contained 
farm and on handicrafts. There are, of course, degrees 
of integration and of collective control and different 
methods of collective control. The people have been in 
various ways extending their control over the economy 

1 Adolf A. Berle, Jr., and Gardiner C. Means, The Modern Corpo- 
ration and Private Property, Macmillan, 1934. 

[ 71 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

in the last seventy years. The question is not whether 
we want a collective economy but what form of social 
control we desire. Do we want the economy to be con- 
trolled by a few, primarily in their own interests, or by 
the people, in the interest of all? How much of the 
"free enterprise " system do we want to keep? Shall we 
move toward fascism or toward socialism? If toward the 
latter, how far do we propose to go? 

And so it is with planning. Even Mr. Lippmann grants 
the necessity of knowing our land, mineral, and forest 
resources and of making intelligent use of them. He says: 

The land and what is under it, the seas and the highways, 
arc the patrimony of all generations to come, and all rights of 
private property in this patrimony must, therefore, be subject 
to the condition that this natural inheritance will not be 
wasted or destroyed, that it will, on the contrary, be enriched. 
. . . The conclusion is undeniable that conservation, in its 
broadest sense, including the zoning of urban and agricultural 
land, is a paramount obligation of a liberal state. 1 

This is planning, and important steps forward have been 
taken in this field. Furthermore, rationalization is the 
very essence of industry in the power age. Again the 
question is not whether we shall have planning, but by 
whom and for whom, cui bono. It was in large measure the 
waste and inefficiency that grows out of planning simply 
for profits the more and the quicker, the better that 
brought us to the plight we are in. Of this I think there 
can be no doubt. If the problems of our economy are to 
be solved, thought must be given to these problems. 
Steps must be taken to ensure that the resources of the 
country are utilized for the benefit of the people. That 
is planning. It is unthinkable that in a country with such 
great resources millions should continue to live without 

1 Lippmann, op. dt. 

( 72 ] 

Means and Ends 

economic security or that the present economic strati- 
fication of American society with its injustice to more 
than half our people can be indefinitely endured. 

How far and how rapidly we shall need to proceed de- 
pends on many factors. We should go as far in the direc- 
tion of social control and ownership of the instruments of 
production and distribution as is necessary to achieve our 
purposes and no further. Private ownership of personal 
property, including houses, is surely an essential. Our 
aim must be better houses and more personal possessions 
for nine-tenths of our people. There are also many values 
in private ownership of productive property, in the so- 
called private enterprise system, that should be retained 
as long as possible. The division line may be somewhere 
between big key industries that are sick or unmanageable 
through regulation on the one hand and healthy, well- 
balanced and well-behaved large industries and small 
businesses on the other. It is absolutely essential that 
no privileged group be permitted to retain economic 
power so great that it virtually controls not only indus- 
try but the state. There is no reason why in the United 
States a plurality of forms should not exist side by side 
capitalism, state and municipal socialism, and coopera- 
tives what J. M. Keynes has called "the particular 
amalgam of private capitalism and state socialism which 
is the only practicable recipe for present conditions." 1 
In this connection we undoubtedly have much to learn 
from the Scandinavian countries. 

The essential consideration is that our resources be 
employed for the welfare of our people. Folklore and 
superstition must not prevent the use of our political and 
social institutions for the accomplishment of this task. 
It is unthinkable that with millions without work because 

1 J. M. Keynes, New Statesman and Nation (London), issue of Jan. 
28, 1939. 

[73 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

of the breakdown of private industry the government 
should stand idly by. 

The Democratic Method 

How shall these changes be brought about? The 
American people proclaimed the right of revolution in 
their Declaration of Independence. But the necessity for 
revolution arises only when the people find it impossible 
to control their government and make it an instrument 
for the solution of their economic problems. The institu- 
tions of political democracy, by providing for changes 
even in the basic law itself, have opened the way for 
changes in the political system and in the economy that 
should render revolution unnecessary. As Professor 
George Mead has expressed it, the establishment of 
political democracy " institutionalized the process of 
re volution. " Although the fact of revolution and the 
right of revolution cannot be denied, revolution is not 
the method of democracy. Revolution will come only 
when the processes of democracy break down. Our task 
is to make them work in the solution of the economic 
problems that confront us. 

Furthermore, as every informed observer knows, 
revolution in the United States could result only in the 
establishment of a fascist regime of some kind. There is 
no danger of revolution by the left radicals in this coun- 
try. These parties are weak and divided. There is real 
danger, however, from fascist-minded reactionaries who 
do not hesitate to take the law into their own hands in in- 
dustrial disputes, who do not hesitate to deny men their 
civil rights of freedom of speech and assembly, and who 
will, once aroused, recognize no authority but superior 
force. The La Follette senatorial investigation of viola- 
tions of civil liberties has shown that in many instances 


Means and Ends 

large industrial corporations have employed their own 
spies and armed forces and have at times controlled the 
police and even the National Guard. The political control 
which Huey Long established over Louisiana and his 
share-the-wealth movement had many of the earmarks 
of fascism, as do the mouthings of Father Coughlin. 
Such phenomena as the Hague regime in Jersey City 
are clearly fascist in tendency and very ominous. Profes- 
sor Gellerman 1 has documented beyond cavil certain 
tendencies in the American Legion that are clearly anti- 
democratic, though many of the members of this or- 
ganization would make it an instrument for the defense 
of democracy. More sinister was the rise of the Ku 
Klux Klan in the early twenties. Dangerous are those 
"civic" organizations that today, in the name of the 
constitution, oppose all reconstructive measures as 
un-American, as do certain uniformed "patriotic" 
societies that are fomenting racial prejudice. It is from 
general directions such as these that the threat of 
autocracy and violence comes in this country, and their 
method is thoroughly un-American. 

The crisis in which we find ourselves will continue 
until there is a redistribution of economic power between 
the social classes of this country or until the country 
finds itself under the iron heel of a fascist dictatorship, 
American version. If a satisfactory solution is to be 
found for our economic difficulties, it will be through the 
political action of those who live by work for wages or 
salaries and who do not now exercise that control over 
the economy that assures them security and freedom. 
The believers in democracy must appeal to the masses 
who are without security and freedom but who have the 
ballot. But this need not mean class war. 

1 William B. Gellerman, The American Legion as Educator, Teachers 
College, Bureau of Publications, 1938. 

[ 75 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

Nor can it be too strongly emphasized that most 
individuals in all ranks and classes of American society 
believe in democracy, recognize the inefficiencies and 
injustices that have created the crisis that confronts us, 
and are prepared to make sacrifices for democracy. The 
appeal of the friends of democracy should, then, be to 
all the people. The role of the intellectual classes is a 
critical one. At no time in history have the intellectuals 
and the technologists wielded so much influence as in 
contemporary society, not even in the France of the 
eighteenth century. The million teachers of the country 
as citizens and as intellectuals have an important part to 
play in this process. And for them, as we shall see in the 
last chapter, neutrality is impossible. 

A Realignment of Political Parties Needed 

As we have already pointed out, political parties 
in this country no longer give expression to the realities 
of the economic and political situation. There is no 
reason why Carter Glass and Herbert Hoover or Maury 
Maverick and Robert La Follette should belong to differ- 
ent parties. The interests of democracy demand the 
formation of a new party that will include the progressive 
wings of the two major parties, the progressives of 
Wisconsin, the farmer-labor parties in the western 
states, and the labor parties that have been organized 
in some states, and that should include the socialists. 
This party would work in the American democratic 
tradition. The terminology of the Marxian parties and 
their tactics are not acceptable to Americans. The 
Marxian analysis was probably the most important 
and illuminating contribution to social theory in the 
nineteenth century. But Marx lived and wrote in Europe 
in the nineteenth century, and his thought was con- 
ditioned by his age and culture. There is no place in 


Means and Ends 

this country for the tactics of the party line or of the 
class struggle as developed by the communist parties. 
These tactics are utterly alien to America and to democ- 
racy. The new party must be utterly realistic about the 
economic situation and the class alignments that have 
been produced by industrial capitalism, but its methods 
must be those of democracy. 

In the domestic field this party would move toward 
a gradual socialization of the principal utilities and 
key industries that are sick or recalcitrant. It would 
be possible, then, to develop a coordinated, efficient, 
cheap system of transportation. What an example the 
railroads have been of bad planning, inefficiency, and 
exploitation of a public service not adequately controlled 
by the people! Public ownership of power should bring 
cheap electric energy to city and country. The Federal 
government should control all mineral deposits. The pro- 
gram of the new party would call for firm protection of the 
right of workers to bargain collectively. Once in power, 
it would enact adequate minimum-wages-and-hours laws 
and laws for the protection of women and youth in indus- 
try. Child labor in industry would be abolished. An ade- 
quate program of social security for everyone would be 
inaugurated. Cooperatives would be fostered in every 
way possible. Social services, including education, would 
be greatly extended. The government would effectively 
enter, on a long-time plan, those fields of investment 
that no longer offer adequate returns to private capital. 
Government would not hesitate to put men to work at 
good wages on public works or even, in time of depres- 
sion, at producing the goods which people need. Such a 
government would not be bound by mere folklore. 

If such a party were opposed by a frankly conserva- 
tive party, the political situation would at once be 
greatly improved. The purpose of the conservative party 


Education for Democracy in Our Time 

would be the preservation of as much of the system of 
private enterprise as possible, The two parties would be 
separated by genuine political differences, but the con- 
servative party would not be one of reaction. It would 
accept most of the objectives of the liberal party but 
eschew many of its concrete proposals, though many, 
such as regulation, social security and other social 
legislation, and the development of social services, it 
would accept. This party would claim to be more effi- 
cient in government. It would operate wholly within 
the democratic tradition and would perform an indis- 
pensable function of constructive criticism. Such a 
conservative policy has sometimes been referred to in 
England as "tory socialism. " 

The Problem of Foreign Relations 

The problem of the relation of the United States to 
other nations cannot be omitted from such an analysis 
as the foregoing. The economics and the cultures of the 
world were never so closely knit together as today. Ours 
is an age of contradictions. Technology has created an 
interdependent world, but nationalism is rampant in this 
world. After an unprecedented armament race with its 
colossal waste of human energy and material resources, 
the actuality of war between great powers again threatens 
the very foundations of civilization. The world struggle, as 
we pointed out earlier, is between two ways of life, the 
authoritarian and democratic. The lines are often not 
clear. The struggle is on in every country between the 
forces of reaction and of democracy. But the main issues 
should be clear, and that another world war will not 
only set back the program of economic reconstruction 
in every country but threaten civilization itself likewise 
should be clear. 

[ 78 ] 

Means and Ends 

This government should strive to live at peace with 
all countries, for peace is essential to the task of recon- 
struction that confronts us. If isolation were possible, 
civilization might be preserved on this continent in the 
holocaust that seems to be approaching. But the inte- 
grated world economy of the twentieth century makes 
complete isolation for America impossible. Moreover, 
we cannot, in the opinion of the writer, be indifferent 
to the fate of democracy in other countries. The conquest 
of Spain by Italy and Germany and the enthronement 
of Franco's fascist regime there, with the democracies 
lifting not a finger (worse, actually making defeat 
certain by the incredible policy of "nonintervention" 
and through our neutrality act, which certainly was not 
actual neutrality), the destruction of democratic Czecho- 
slovakia, and the invasion of China and now Poland 
threaten the peace and security of all democratic nations. 
When all the rest of the world is fascist and that 
eventuality is distinctly within the realm of possibilities 
the prospect for democracy in the United States will 
be dark indeed. The prediction of Mussolini that the 
twentieth century will be the century of fascism, as the 
nineteenth was the century of liberalism, will then have 
come true. 

And this is not to advocate a policy of world meddling 
or of pulling the chestnuts of the British Empire out 
of the fire. Nor is it to advocate assistance to govern- 
ments in the achievement of any purposes that are not 
democratic. It is to say that a positive foreign policy 
is better than a negative one, for a policy of extreme 
isolation is, after all, a merely negative policy. Much 
could have been done, short of war, through economic 
pressure, extension of credits, the sale of arms to demo- 
cratic governments, embargoes on the sale of arms to 
aggressors, and through moral support to help Loyalist 


Education for Democracy in Our Time 

Spain and the Chinese government. Such a policy would, 
of course, involve risks. It is almost a certainty, however, 
that America cannot withdraw from the contemporary 
world and that a policy of isolation will, in the end, 
involve equal, if not greater, risks of war. It would seem 
that a positive policy of collaboration with other democ- 
racies in the directions indicated still offers the only 
way by which the United States can contribute to the 
achievement of world peace and the strengthening of 
democracy throughout the world. 

Civil Liberties as Means and Ends 

The most important political objective must be the 
protection of our civil liberties, freedom of speech, press, 
assembly, and religion, and, I would add, the protection 
of freedom of teaching in our schools and higher institutions 
of learning. To this end there must be cooperation of 
all men of good will who believe in these values. The 
seriousness of the threat to the way of democracy cannot 
be overemphasized. For its ultimate defense we should 
be prepared to sink all other differences. And one of the 
gravest dangers to democracy in time of crisis is the 
tendency of liberals and radicals, following perfectionist 
ideals, to split into warring sects. This tendency spelled 
disaster in Germany and in Spain. It should not be 
allowed to happen here. It is imperative that all believers 
in democracy, regardless of differences of view on eco- 
nomic problems, unite for the maintenance of the 
processes of democracy and of our civil liberties. The 
conservative party and the liberal party described in 
the preceding pages could and should collaborate in the 
defense of our democratic institutions and processes. 

Civil liberties, then, are both means and ends. It 
is only through free discussion that a democracy can 
function, while freedom of speech, assembly, and press 
are marks of a free and truly civilized society. 




SALIENT and striking facts relating to universal popular 
education are the recency of its origin, its magnitude 
and complexity, its enormous potentialities for influenc- 
ing the minds of men, and the significance moderns have 
attached to it. Already state systems of education have 
served varied and often conflicting purposes. Popular 
education is not always a creative and liberating in- 
fluence, for it can be controlled by whatever forces 
control the state. It may be employed either as an 
agency of enlightenment or merely for purposes of social 

It was the liberals of the eighteenth and nineteenth 
centuries who carried on the agitation for free schools. 
They considered education f oundational to a free society. 
But the liberals never gained complete control of educa- 
tion in any of the Western countries, though everywhere 
the state was, until the World War at least, constantly 
being liberalized. Moreover, liberalism, despite the 
influence of the great intellectual currents of the century 
and of the socialist movement, was nationalist in temper. 
The liberals advocated national self-determination and 
the liberation of nationalities, such as the Poles, the 
Greeks, and the Irish, and they believed in teaching 

[81 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

patriotism. It is the less surprising, therefore, that 
under the more or less conscious tutelage of the more 
conservative elements usually in control of the state 
civic loyalty was identified with loyalty to the status 
quo and to the policies of those in control of the state. 
Thus the whole prewar German educational system 
was made an instrument of national policy. In the 
German Volkschule and secondary schools the masses 
were taught patriotism, loyalty to German imperialism, 
and distrust of France. The French schools were 
employed to create, in the words of Carlton Hayes, 
"a nation of patriots." Today the schools of Italy and 
Germany teach unquestioning allegiance to the fascist 
state, and the new Russian schools instill loyalty to 
the communist regime and its economic and social 
purposes. It is true that the picture was, until the postwar 
period, never wholly of one color in any country. Educa- 
tion in all Western countries was throughout the nine- 
teenth century a liberating influence. It is indeed 
doubtful whether any dictatorship can ever completely 
bend popular education to its own purposes. In one 
sense education, since it modifies behavior, is always a 
form of control, but the word is employed here to denote 
habituation to the purposes of ruling groups or classes 
that do not represent the interests of the people. 
Plainly, then, educational policies always involve ethical 
values and choices and major social decisions. Both the 
content and method of education are affected by these 

The Nature of Social Education 

From the standpoint of social purpose, two concep- 
tions of the educative process require our examination. 

According to one conception, the explanation of 
learning is found in the operation of the stimulus- 

[82 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

response mechanism. Learning or education is in large 
measure a process of habituation. There can be no 
question of the importance of this mechanism or of the 
process of habituation in education. But the weight of 
scientific evidence, both psychological and sociological, 
is against a narrowly mechanistic conception of learning 
and of education. According to the second view, then, 
education is, or can and should be, a more creative 
process. Man has always ventured. He has acquired new 
patterns of behavior. He is moulded by a culture, but 
he also can and does modify culture. As a result of a 
long process of biological and cultural evolution, he 
has acquired the capacity to see relationships, to recognize 
and find solutions to problems, to invent, actually 
to create new patterns of behavior. The second concep- 
tion of the educative process, therefore, emphasizes the 
active, experiential, and creative aspects of learning. 

The validity of these conceptions of the nature of 
education depends in considerable measure on the pur- 
poses to be achieved. Where conformity is sought, 
education becomes of necessity, in large measure, a 
process of conditioning. Authoritarianism relies on this 
method in all areas in which conformity is desired. At 
best, according to this conception, education is a process 
of discovering absolute truth rather than of cultivating 
the creative capacities of the individual. This method 
is employed today by the authoritarian dictatorships 
in most areas of human relations. It is evident, however, 
that from the other point of view this conception of 
education is wholly inadequate, for the reason that such 
conditioning tends to enslave and not to free the mind, 
to atrophy and not to develop the individual's creative 
abilities. Habituation and the mastery of skills must 
always be a part of education, but whenever these 
processes become all of education for any individual or 

[ 83 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

social class, education ceases to be education in the 
truest sense. 

Reasoning by analogy is always dangerous, but the 
work of the surgeon may be employed to illustrate the 
relation that should obtain between habits, skills, and 
intelligence, for habit has an indispensable function to 
play in any scheme of life. The surgeon must master 
certain skills so that they become almost automatic - 
" second nature/' as we say. The surgeon who has 
mastered these skills has gained freedom to operate 
in accordance with his best judgment. The truly great 
surgeon is characterized both by his skill and by his 
judgment, but he would not be great if he could not 
subordinate his skill to his judgment, if he had not 
acquired that quality of mind that enables him to dis- 
card one technique in favor of a better one or to modify 
a technique in the presence of a new situation in accord- 
ance with a penetrating analysis of the situation. The 
process of conditioning is, then, only one phase of a 
true educative process. Beyond this level, education 
and conditioning become in fact contradictory terms. 
The highest form of education involves the development 
of capacity for criticism and evaluation, of independence 
of thought and action. 

From all this it follows that the aim of education should 
be to equip the individual the more wisely to reflect 
upon and to guide his own experience. This is the instru- 
mental function of thinking. Indeed, thinking can have 
no other functions than those of critical analysis, deci- 
sion, action, verification, and evaluation. The individual 
is, then, truly educated to the extent that he is capable 
of thoughtful self-direction. Thus it has been said that 
education is a " process of experience reconstructing 
experience. 9 ' The process of critical evaluation, if it is 
extended to all areas of experience, assumes that a 


Education for Democracy in Our Time 

thing may be judged good or bad by the individual 
in accordance with some system of values which to 
him seems valid. In a democracy this means by the 
way in which it serves human needs. The conception of 
finalities in the realm of human affairs in a changing 
world is rejected. Life becomes truly creative. By taking 
thought, men can, within limits, recreate their environ- 
ment, mould it in accordance with their aspirations. 

Intelligence and Loyalties 

This interpretation of the meaning of education raises 
the question of the relation of criticism and inde- 
pendence of thinking to the development of loyalties. 
If each individual is to do his own thinking, to judge 
policies and actions by consequences in terms of some 
system of values acceptable to himself but also subject 
to constant modification in the light of experience, will 
not the end result be anarchy, every man a law unto 
himself? How can social stability exist unless it be based 
on moral and social verities, on political and social 
principles as unchangeable as the laws of nature? The 
human race has always desired that emotional and mental 
security that comes from a feeling of certainty, and 
throughout the history of the race the " quest for 
certainty/' to borrow Dewey's phrase, has gone on. 

The social thinkers of the Enlightenment of the 
eighteenth century were searching for the natural laws 
of society just as the physical scientists were searching 
for the laws of the physical world. But in this search 
they were doomed to disappointment. As the boundaries 
of knowledge have been pushed farther and farther 
back by modern science and scholarship, a world of 
relativity rather than a domain of absolute certainty 
has been discovered in the realm of human affairs. 


Education for Democracy in Our Time 

Indeed, the physical sciences, too, have revealed a 
world of motion in which the laws of Newtonian physics, 
once regarded as absolute, operate in a larger frame of 
relativity. Man has found increasingly in the modern 
world that his reliance must be placed in intelligence. 
This does not mean that there are no enduring values 
in life. It does mean that there are no ethical absolutes, 
in the traditional and authoritarian sense of that term. 
The vast changes that the long centuries have brought 
alter conditions even in the moral realm. Only that is 
good which fosters human intelligence and promotes 
human welfare. A political and social system that would 
be acceptable in a primitive tribe is rejected by free 
men in an advanced culture. Morals are relative to 
cultures. It follows that when man becomes aware 
of the nature of culture and of social processes, he 
finds that his destiny is to a considerable extent in 
his own hands. Within limits set by the physical environ- 
ment, by his own biological endowment, and by such 
stubborn cultural facts as modern science and technol- 
ogy, he can mould the world increasingly in terms of 
his own choices. 

Every interpretation of the nature and purpose of 
education involves, then, an interpretation of the 
nature of things and of the nature of culture a world 
outlook or philosophy. Opposed to the traditional 
absolutist, authoritarian conception of the process of 
knowing and of values is that of the modern world which 
rejects all authority except experience, including study, 
investigation, experimentation, and research, refined 
to the highest possible degree. This is the pragmatic 
or scientific view which looks for explanations of natural 
and social phenomena only within the natural order 
itself, for this method can know no other order. This 
world outlook or philosophy exalts the functions of 


Education for Democracy in Our Time 

science and of human intelligence. It is, as we have 
already seen, the philosophy of democracy. 

We are now in a better position to understand the 
problem of building loyalties in a democracy. It is 
a difficult problem, more difficult in the short run at 
least, than the inculcation of loyalties under an authori- 
tarian regime. But I do not believe the problem insoluble, 
for if it is, then human intelligence is unable to solve the 
problems of a free society. The fact is that human 
intelligence has, particularly in the last four or five 
hundred years, laid the foundation of a free society. 
It is this intellectual achievement and heritage that is 
being challenged in the contemporary world. The out- 
lines of the problem of loyalties in a democratic society 
for only in a democracy can men be free seem clear. 
A democracy must foster in its members loyalty to the 
principles of a free society. This may seem trite and even 
tautological, but it is more than that. As we have said, 
freedom of thought is both an end and a means in such a 
society. It would seem obvious, then, that a democracy 
can foster loyalty to the great objectives of democracy, 
individual and social welfare, and to those processes 
and institutions essential to the promotion of these 
purposes. It will foster those values that the race has 
found good. But it will always apply the pragmatic 
test to social processes and institutions. 

There is no escaping the conclusion, then, that all 
education proceeds of necessity within some frame of 
reference. Education occurs always in time and space; 
it takes place in a particular social setting. It is plain 
that every national system of education in the con- 
temporary world is an expression of the culture that 
supports it and reflects the philosophy or the conflicts 
that dominate that culture. If a society is characterized 
by stresses and strains, by uncertainty, by an internal 


Education for Democracy in Our Time 

struggle for power, these phenomena will be reflected 
in its educational system. We can see this in French, 
Italian, German, Russian, and British education. It 
is high time that we see it in American education. If 
education is to serve definite social purposes, it must 
embody these purposes in its theory and practices. 
These are the considerations and necessities which make 
the problem of education so important in the remaining 
democracies of the world at this particular juncture in 

The Political Purpose of Education in the 
United States 

There has been a determined effort in our generation 
to neutralize American education socially. This takes 
the form of pressure from various groups to prevent the 
study of controversial social issues in the school, such 
as the problems involved in the relation of labor and 
capital or proposals for the reconstruction of society. 
Teachers of known liberal view have on occasion been 
driven out of the schools. Even prominent educators 
take the view that the teacher must be neutral in the 
classroom, that the schools must not indoctrinate, 
must not even " indoctrinate " a belief in democracy, 
or, I presume, in the methods of science. Can such a 
policy of neutrality serve the interests of American 
democracy? Is it consistent with the historic purpose of 
American education? The advocates of such neutrality 
would do well to read a little American history. 

Free schools were established in this country for a 
definite social purpose, the education of all citizens in 
order that they might intelligently discharge their 
responsibilities as citizens, and this in order that the 
great experiment in republican government, that is, 


Education for Democracy in Our Time 

in democracy, might not fail in the United States. 
According to Charles A. Beard : 

The men who had set up the new government after the 
Revolution were, as a matter of course, especially concerned 
with political education, with the preparation of the people 
for self-government. . . . The preservation of these processes 
of democracy was assured in part, the founders believed, by 
laws and institutions guaranteeing freedom of the press, 
discussion, and decision, but they knew that paper guarantees 
were not enough. Knowledge and a moral sense were required 
to sustain democratic processes and to make them constructive 
rather than destructive. 1 

Franklin, Jefferson, and others of the founders believed 
popular education and the development of colleges 
and universities essential to popular government and 
gave much thought to the promotion of educational 
institutions. Madison once said that a system of popular 
government not founded on popular education would 
result either in a " farce or a tragedy or both." In his 
Farewell Address, Washington said: " Promote, then, 
as an object of primary importance, institutions for the 
general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the 
structure of government gives force to public opinion, 
it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened. " 
Washington left a part of his estate for the founding 
of a national university at the national capital. Jefferson 
drafted a plan for popular education, and he was the 
founder of the University of Virginia. 

Fifty years after the Revolution the battle for the 
establishment of free schools was fought out. It was the 
proponents of liberalism and democracy then as always 
who wanted schools for the people. The first organization 

1 Charles A. Beard, The Unique Function of Education in American 
Democracy, National Education Association, 1937. This monograph was 
written for the Educational Policies Commission of the N. E. A. 

[89 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

of working men in this country demanded free schools 
for their children as essential to the preservation of their 
political liberties. Mann, Carter, Barnard, and other 
educational leaders of this period, the " founding fathers" 
of our free schools, saw clearly that democratic govern- 
ment was dependent on free schools and that the first 
duty of the school was to give the individual that educa- 
tion that would enable him to exercise understandingly 
and intelligently the rights and responsibilities of 
citizenship. It was no mere matter of chance that free 
schools were established at the very time that property and 
religious qualifications for voting were being abolished 
and the principle of manhood suffrage firmly established. 
It is true that the founders of our free schools had other 
purposes in mind. The schools would raise the cultural 
level of the people. They would equip the individual to 
play his part in the economic life of the country and to 
better his own economic position in society. Both of 
these were and still are laudable purposes, foundational 
to a democratic society. But the needs of a government of 
free men were primary in the minds of the founders of 
free public schools. 

The demands that democracy makes on education 
are much more complex and extensive today than in the 
preindustrial American culture of a century ago. A 
public common school that taught the people to read, 
write, and cipher along with some of the elements of 
geography and history and that provided an introduction, 
at least, to English literature, supplemented by the 
private and semipublic academies and colleges for the 
education of leaders, met the needs of that time very 
well. The one-room rural school, with its winter term 
of a few weeks or months, and the academy were thor- 
oughly functional for that period and were truly char- 
acteristic American institutions. They brought literacy 


Education for Democracy in Our Time 

to the general public and instilled loyalty to and some 
understanding of our social and political institutions. 
Even in that period the most thoughtful of American 
educators believed that the essential social function of 
public education extended beyond that of placing the 
individual in possession of a few simple tools, such as 
the " three RV represented. In the words of Horace 

Since the achievement of American independence, the 
universal and ever-repeated argument in favor of free schools 
has been that the general intelligence which they are capable 
of diffusing, and which can be imparted by no other human 
instrumentality, is indispensable to the continuance of a 
republican government. . . . 

... It becomes, then, a momentous question, whether the 
children in our schools are educated in reference to themselves 
and their private interests only, or with a regard to the great 
social duties and prerogatives that await them in after-life. 1 

But the task of the school in that society was, after 
all, a relatively simple one. Life on the frontier, on 
the farm, in the shop, in the community, was in many 
ways more educative than is life for most Americans 
today. The farm was more educative than the assembly 
line of a modern factory that requires not initiative 
and independence of judgment but little more than a 
certain manual dexterity and adjustment to the machine. 
In those days institutions such as the home and the 
church carried much larger educational responsibilities. 
Community life was much more integrated and homo- 
geneous in outlook and much more certainly inculcated 
in the individual qualities that developing American 
democracy required. 

1 From the Tenth and Ninth Annual Reports, quoted in Horace Mann, 
His Ideas and Ideals, J. E. Morgan, National Home Library Foundation, 


Education for Democracy in Our Time 

It is truly difficult to grasp the full import of the 
cultural changes that have been wrought by scientific 
discoveries and technological advances and by such 
factors as the conquest of the West in the United States, 
the influx of immigrants from Europe, and the urbaniza- 
tion of life in these hundred years, and the extent to 
which education and the school have been affected by 
these changes. No longer either the economic or educa- 
tional agency that it once was, the home has been 
profoundly affected by changed social and economic 
conditions. The church no longer exercises the moral 
authority that it once did. The American community 
is no longer so homogeneous in its ideas and outlook. 
There has been, decade by decade, a gradual transfer 
of educational responsibilities to the school. As James E. 
Russell has pointed out, it was not generally considered 
two or three generations ago that the school should 
assume a direct responsibility for moral training or 
even for civic education in the current sense of that 

Schooling has now been made compulsory and the 
period of education greatly extended. If the industrial 
processes of the modern world are dependent on a 
widespread diffusion of general and technical knowledge, 
the social and political processes of the age demand 
even more an appropriate social education. If republican 
government was dependent on popular education in the 
days of James Madison, political education for both 
youth and adults is far more essential to democracy 
today. Political education, in the very nature of things, 
must include technical and professional education, 
education for work. Democracy also has its deep ethical 
implications; hence education for democracy involves 
moral education appropriate to the democratic ideal, not 
through preaching but through living. 

[92 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

If I seem to labor this point, it is only because of 
its overwhelming importance for us in the United 
States today. The American free school was never 
intended to be socially neutral. It was instituted pri- 
marily to educate the people for democracy, and political 
education is today its most insistent responsibility. 
The reader is aware that no narrow and restricted type 
of political education is meant here but rather that 
type of education that will most adequately equip the 
people to find democratic solutions of the critical 
problems that confront them in the twentieth century. 

No better evidence that political education is the 
first problem of the schools today could be found than 
the current discussions relative to the social functions 
and problems of education and the attempts of various 
groups in society to control social education through 
legislation and through various direct pressures on 
boards of control, administrators, and teachers. For 
twenty years now a controversy has raged over the 
problem of indoctrination. Teachers and administrators 
and the lay public are today preoccupied with the prob- 
lem of social education. A vast literature on the sub- 
ject is appearing in books and journals devoted to the 
consideration of the moral, social, economic, and political 
problems of the age. Political education, broadly inter- 
preted, is the raison d'etre of the public school. And 
this purpose was never more compelling nor more urgent 
than at the present time. It is a purpose that needs 
to be much more widely understood. 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

This brings us squarely to the problem of education 
for democracy in our time. In the light of the analysis 
made in the preceding pages, the main outlines of a 
social program for education begin to emerge clearly. 

[93 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

It is evident, in the first place, that if democracy is to 
be conserved and fully realized, the American people 
must understand the meaning of democracy, both in 
its historical development and in its social bearings and 
implications for the world of today. They must under- 
stand that democracy is more than a form of government, 
that as a way of life it has deep implications for every 
aspect of life, that a society cannot long maintain 
democracy in certain areas of life while violating it in 
other areas. The people must see that economics and 
politics are always indissolubly connected, that democ- 
racy has profound concern for the economic well-being 
of the individual and that the economic well-being of 
all is essential to the continuance of democracy. They 
must gain a clear comprehension of the moral, aesthetic, 
and social bearings and implications of democracy in 
American life. Democracy values above all else the worth 
and dignity of human personality. It is, therefore, 
intolerant of special privilege. The utilization of human 
beings as mere machines, as mere instruments of 
industry or of the state is a negation of the values of 

The first responsibility of organized education in our 
time is, then, to enable children, youth, and adults to 
acquire this understanding of democracy and its prob- 
lems. Every part of the educational system and every 
area of education is involved, the university no less 
than the high school, the arts and the sciences as well 
as the social studies. Nor can the process of education 
be merely one of " acquiring knowledge" in the tradi- 
tional sense. Knowledge is of fundamental importance. 
The way in which knowledge is acquired and the atti- 
tudes built in the process are also of vital importance. 
Knowledge is effective, is really knowledge for the individ- 
ual, as it enters into and guides his actions. 


Education for Democracy in Our Time 

It is especially vital that children and youth gain 
understanding of the reliance of democracy on the 
methods of intelligence, on the most exact scientific 
methods of assembling and verifying data for utilization 
in the formulation of policy, and practice in the applica- 
tion of these methods and techniques to problems of 
critical social import and of concern to them. They 
should acquire the habit of appraising policies by their 
effect on the welfare of the people, grow in ability to do 
so, and act accordingly. They should learn that traditions 
are good to the extent that they contribute to the 
general welfare, that the traditional should be accepted 
as good or rejected in the light of a critical analysis 
in terms of the values of democracy. Scientific and 
experimental in its outlook and practice, democracy 
rejects authoritarianism, though it makes a place for 
authority. In short, the American people need to gain 
effective understanding of the intellectual bases of 
democracy and of the crisis in thought arising from the 
conflict between two great value systems in the con- 
temporary world. It is not argued here that every 
individual citizen can or will come to a clear under- 
standing of these intellectual and moral problems in all 
their complex and subtle ramifications. It is argued that 
the large majority of individuals are, intellectually, ca- 
pable of some comprehension of the main points of dif- 
ference between the democratic and the authoritarian 
views of life and conceptions of human welfare. If 
not, then it would seem that democracy will indeed 
eventually prove unworkable. 

Education for democracy involves understanding 
of the great social trends and problems of our time. 
It is imperative that Americans understand, before it is 
too late, the irresistible trend away from the economic 
individualism of the early nineteenth century toward a 

[95 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

more closely integrated economy that is necessitating 
a continuous extension of social control over the economy. 
Understanding of how modern methods of production 
have brought insecurity to millions of workers who no 
longer exercise control over the tools and processes of 
production and distribution is imperative for all. Various 
proposals for the solution of our economic problems are 
bidding for support, ranging all the way from fascism to 
communism. Organized labor and the organized farmers 
are struggling for greater economic security. How much 
of the private-enterprise system can or should be retained 
in a society of free men? How can the economy of abun- 
dance now possible be realized ? The trend toward economic 
planning seems irresistible. How can planning be managed 
so as to free and not regiment a population? All these 
problems and many more besides are problems for study 
in school, college, and university, in adult-education 
classes and forums. Democracy will be secure only to the 
extent that the people are informed and have acquired 
the capacity to keep themselves informed and to think 
and to act in their own interests in these areas. 

Culture and Democracy 

Democracy utterly rejects the age-old belief that a 
privileged leisure class is essential to the building of a 
rich culture. In a democracy culture cannot be the 
possession of the few but must be brought within reach 
of all. Education for democracy means, therefore, not 
less but more of emphasis on what has always been 
known as the "cultural values/' and it insists that 
these values be made available to all, not merely to 
those who come from the more favored families and who 
can attend favored elementary and secondary schools, 
colleges, and universities and enjoy travel and other 
cultural advantage. Democracy's school will seek to 


Education for Democracy in Our Time 

develop the individual's capacities for appreciation 
and enjoyment not only in the arts but in all areas of 
knowledge and experience. It will strive to develop 
his creative abilities and to give him opportunity for 
expression in whatever medium appeals to him. It will 
give much attention to health and to personal and social 
living in all their aspects. The "newer" fields, such as 
home economics, health and physical education, and 
all the arts have indispensable contributions to make 
to his education. Education that is concerned only with 
the intellectual or with certain skills of a vocational 
character becomes sterile, in time actually anti-in- 
tellectual. The arts and the development of the human 
body should again be accorded something of the dignity 
and importance accorded to them by the Greeks. But 
it is fallacious to try to draw a line between the fine 
and practical arts. 

If we are to build a richer culture in the America of 
tomorrow, we cannot be indifferent to the enrichment 
of living in our day. Social reformers, of all people, 
should be deeply concerned with the preservation and 
enrichment of the enduring values of our culture, but, 
unfortunately, often they are seemingly indifferent 
to or oblivious of broader cultural interests. The chief 
arguments against revolution as a method of social 
change is the loss of culture that this method always 

Education for democracy, then, involves a conception 
of the kind of culture that is desirable and possible for 
the future in our country and of the educational processes 
and institutions that will contribute positively to the 
realization of these desirabilities and possibilities. Again, 
the complexities of these problems must be noted. To 
what extent should we strive for uniformity, to what 
extent for the preservation of variety, in speech, dress, 


Education for Democracy in Our Time 

manners, in aesthetic forms in music, the graphic and 
plastic arts, architecture, community planning, and the 
like? Although many of these problems lie beyond the 
range of the present discussion, it must be evident that 
a dead uniformity would be a perversion of the possi- 
bilities of a democratic society. Democracy must prize 
variety and richness in life because it values the unique 
contribution that each individual and each community 
can make to living. It must be obvious, too, that the 
role of the arts is as important as that of science or 
politics in a democracy. 

Above all, it is the problem of education and, therefore, 
of the school to inculcate in the individual understanding 
of the processes of democracy and loyalty to its objec- 
tives, its processes, and its rich cultural possibilities. 
Here it must again be emphasized that the civil liberties 
of free speech, free assembly, and a free press are both 
means and ends. It is inconceivable that culture can 
flourish in a situation in which these values do not 
prevail. For the advancement of culture the school 
must be intellectually free. 

Democracy in Education 

Education for democracy, then, implies democracy 
in education. Only a school that itself practices democ- 
racy in all its operations can teach democracy. Means 
must be appropriate to the ends to be achieved. These 
principles hold with respect to the control and adminis- 
tration of the school and to methods of teaching. 

Method in education rests on two foundations, on 
the biological nature of the individual and on cultural or 
social purposes. Obviously, the educator in a democracy 
should determine his method in the light of all that bio- 
logical and psychological research has revealed with refer- 
ence to the nature of human nature, bearing in mind 


Education for Democracy in Our Time 

always that human nature is a function both of the biolog- 
ical organism and of the culture in which the individual 
lives, of the interaction between the organism and its 
physical and cultural environment. All that modern psy- 
chology has taught us about the individual must be uti- 
lized in the process of education for democracy. Economy 
and effectiveness of learning are of the utmost importance. 
And this scientific knowledge and its attendant tech- 
niques and skills must be employed for, and not against, 
democracy. For we have seen that the process of condi- 
tioning, for example, about which the psychologists 
have taught us so much, is the process of teaching- 
loyalty to authoritarian regimes. Every technique that 
modern clinical psychology has developed, every insight 
that the various schools of psychology behavioristic, 
Gestalt, Freudian, and others have given us must be 
employed in democracy's school, subject to the purposes 
of democracy. 

But it is primarily from the purposes of a society that 
the methods of its education must be derived. Democracy 
is the only social and political system that can utilize 
to the full the experiential nature of all learning and 
education. It will place a premium always on experience, 
critically evaluated, on self-directed activity on the 
part of the learner. Since independent thinking and 
cooperative effort are essentials of democracy, these will 
be emphasized in its methods of education and the 
school must provide for these experiences. The methods 
and techniques of research will be taught. Libraries and 
laboratories are prime essentials. The community itself 
will always be an educational laboratory. Activity, 
intellectual and social, on the part of the learner, par- 
ticipation in social processes within both the school 
and community are essential. The problems of society 
will not be shunned but will become subjects of study, 


Education for Democracy in Our Time 

for thinking really occurs only when the individual is 
confronted by a problem to be solved. 

These issues open up many problems, some of which 
will be considererl in the chapters that follow, many of 
which lie beyond the purview of this discussion. 

Education and Indoctrination 

There remains to be considered the problem of in- 
doctrination and whether what is advocated here is 
education or merely propaganda for a particular social 
program which I have elected to call democracy. For 
two decades or more, now, the controversy over in- 
doctrination has been waged in American education. 
Much heat has been generated, and more often the 
discussion has confused rather than clarified the problem 
of social education. The opponents of " indoctrination" 
have held that if teaching and learning are so managed 
as to lead to some predetermined outcome, the process 
is not truly educative but rather a process of imposition 
and, therefore, antidemocratic. Imposition and education 
they consider a contradiction in terms. 

The opponents of " indoctrination " are by no means 
agreed as to either the nature or purposes of social 
education. Various points of view are discernible. One 
group is deeply concerned that the school should provide 
educational experiences that will equip the individual 
for active and effective participation in a democratic 
society. They want the school to build in the individual 
those attitudes, understandings, and social skills that 
democracy requires. They have been perhaps the leading 
advocates of the "activity program" which makes the 
individual a more active participant in both school and 
community life. They want the controversial problems 
of contemporary life brought into the classroom for 
study and discussion. They want the school to be a 

[ 100 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

positive creative, social force for the preservation and 
fuller realization of democracy. But nothing must be 
"imposed." That would stunt rather than cultivate 
capacities for critical evaluation of conditions and pro- 
posals. The individual must do his own thinking and 
reach his own conclusions. 

Others hold that the business of the school is education 
and that education has nothing to do with the inculcation 
of either social beliefs or social attitudes and habits. 
This school of thought contends that it is "the right of 
the learner to learn, but not of the teacher to teach." 
The teacher should not take sides or express his point of 
view. He should merely preside over the discussion and 
see that it is carried on fairly, preserving a strict neu- 
trality. In such a school, it would seem, the teacher could 
not be deeply and actively concerned that the members 
of the group for which he was responsible really gained 
an understanding of democracy in its economic and 
moral bearings and implications today, for that would 
be taking sides; it would be teaching a point of view; 
it would be imposition; indoctrination! This doctrine 
seems to provide a means of escape for administrators 
and teachers who shrink from the difficulties of the 
study of controversial issues and this in the name of 

To the writer there is not much discernible difference 
between these views so far as outcomes are concerned. 
The danger is that in either instance the product will 
be individuals with a sentimental attachment to democ- 
racy, or to the symbols of democracy, but with a very 
foggy conception of the realities with which democracy 
must come to grips in the contemporary world. All who 
are concerned for the welfare of democracy will do well 
to be on their guard against these arguments against 
"indoctrination," even when advanced by those of 

[ 101 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

known liberal outlook who really desire that the school 
serve the purposes of democracy. We may expect that 
the defenders of the economic and social status quo will, 
in the name of " democracy/' increasingly oppose 
all " indoctrination " in the schools and that they will 
label as indoctrination all objective study of critical 
social trends, problems, and proposals for social recon- 

This problem of indoctrination involves two basic 
considerations that are often overlooked. The first is 
that all education, consciously or unconsciously, is 
carried on in accordance with some frame of reference 
or social philosophy. The second is that all education 
involves moulding of the individual. Education seeks 
to change the individual, to modify his behavior in 
important respects. Merely to send the child to a school 
where he is surrounded by a particular and planned 
environment is to influence his growth and development. 
A purpose is inherent in this process. It seems obvious, 
too, that this purpose or frame of reference operates 
with respect to both purpose and method. We have 
seen how method and purpose, means and ends, are 
linked together in human affairs, how one conditions 
the other. Both as respects method and purpose the 
type of education required by a democracy differs 
from that required by an authoritarian state. Indoctrina- 
tion, in the undesirable sense of that term, is avoided 
when the whole process is lifted to the level of conscious- 
ness and understanding on the part of the teacher and 
increasingly on the part of the learner. 

The aim must be to make the individual intellectually 
a free man. To that end all important angles of con- 
troversial problems must be studied. Arguments for 
and against democracy, socialism, communism, fascism, 
capitalism must be examined. The meaning of democracy 

[ 102 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

must be studied and conditions and proposals evaluated 
in terms of the democratic ideal. A conscious and 
deliberate building in the individual of the understand- 
ings and loyalties that democracy requires of him is not 
and cannot be inconsistent with these principles and 
purposes. Any attempt to "put over" on him ideas and 
beliefs, to withhold salient information, to prevent his 
exploration of important problems is of itself a violation 
of the basic principles of democracy. For only the 
informed individual is a fit citizen for a democracy. 

Indoctrination or, better, propaganda has come to mean 
distortion, withholding of information, evasion, imposing 
upon the individual; propaganda often is plain lying. 
Techniques such as these can have no place in education 
for democracy. But deliberately and consciously to teach 
democracy is in no sense either propaganda or indoctrina- 
tion. For intellectual freedom is an essential of democracy. 
The teaching of democracy is the great challenge that 
the critical period of social transition upon which we 
are now entering makes to the American school. To fail 
to teach democracy is to fail to free the minds of men. 
We shall have occasion later to examine this problem 
further, in a somewhat different setting. 

[ 103 ] 



is every reason to believe that we are on the 
-* verge of a far-reaching reconstruction of the cur- 
riculums of schools and higher educational institutions 
in this country. It is imperative that this reconstruction 
be effected promptly in order that the schools may 
perform their proper functions in preparing the people 
for the reconstruction of their economic and social 
life and institutions. 

Only once in our history has American education 
undergone so fundamental a redirection as that which 
is now required and seems to be taking place. This 
earlier reorientation began in the second half of the 
eighteenth century in the period of ferment and change 
that produced the American Revolution, and such men 
as Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson were 
spokesmen for the new education. Prior to that time, 
such elementary schools as existed were reading and 
ciphering schools, and the old classical curriculum still 
obtained in the secondary schools. But the advance in the 
sciences, the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, 
the rise of the middle class, with its merchants and entre- 
preneurs, and the movement toward political democracy 
were exerting a profound influence on education. Science 

[ 104 ] 

A Social Program for the American School 

had already gained a respectable place in the European 
universities. As Professor Counts has pointed out, the 
times demanded a more practical type of education. 
Benjamin Franklin's plan for the academy established 
in Philadelphia in 1751 called for study of such practical 
subjects as the English language and literature, natural 
science, surveying, bookkeeping, history, and the modern 
languages. So far as the curriculum is concerned, the 
history of American education in the century and a half 
from Franklin's design for his academy to the World 
War is in large measure the history of the expansion and 
development of the educational conceptions inherent in 
that design. 

The curriculums of the elementary and secondary 
schools have since that time been constantly expanded 
by the addition of new subjects to meet new needs, some 
practical, some cultural, some social and political. 
American history, elementary science, music, the fine 
and manual arts, health and physical education, the 
beginnings of home economics have taken their place 
in the elementary school. The greatest expansion has 
occurred in the secondary school through the addition of 
the English language and literature, modern languages, 
science, the social sciences, including much attention to 
European and American history and government, music, 
the fine and industrial arts, home economics, health 
and physical education, and a wide array of vocational 
and technical subjects ranging all the way from stenog- 
raphy to the mechanical trades. As specialization 
developed, the older subjects were classified under 
several separate subject headings, such as science and the 
social sciences. This expansion by accretion continued 
until the offerings of the secondary school and of the 
college became extremely varied, complicated, and top- 
heavy. The tendency was to organize the new fields 

[ 105] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

logically after the fashion of the older subjects of the 
curriculum. Each was broken into a series of units for 
the purpose of teaching. The principle of prescription, 
or of required subjects, was combined with that of 
election, but with the curriculum divided into so many 
discrete subjects and units it became impossible to offer 
any student a rounded general education. A movement 
that had in the beginning brought great vitality to 
education by the introduction of many useful subjects 
required by new social and individual needs had now 
produced a top-heavy and disjointed curriculum that 
was no longer adequately adjusted to social needs. 

The revolt against this atomistic curriculum began 
fifty years ago in the elementary school with Parker 
and the Dewey experimental school, and in the colleges 
after the World War. The revolt began in the high school 
in the second decade of this century but gained little 
headway until the twenties because of the resistance to 
new ideas owing to the persistence of the classical 
tradition and to domination by the college and college- 
entrance requirements. In two respects, however, impor- 
tant changes were taking place in the high school. 
The ferment of the new education was working slowly 
in the direction of liberalizing the subjects of study by 
the inclusion of some subject matter more closely related 
to contemporary life and by the introduction of newer 
methods of teaching which increasingly emphasized the 
value of student activity, the study of contemporary 
problems, and the wider use of laboratories, shops, 
and libraries. At the same time, the so-called extra- 
curricular and student-government activities were gain- 
ing headway under pressure from students themselves 
and from teachers who believed these activities offered 
significant opportunities for individual initiative, co- 
operation, and self-expression. Of course these activities 

[ 106] 

A Social Program for the American School 

have never been in reality extracurricular but have 
provided educational experiences denied by the formal 
curriculum of the school. In the last two decades, sig- 
nificant experiments have been initiated in some of the 
more progressive high schools, but most secondary 
schools still labor under a top-heavy " department 
store' 7 curriculum. Methods are still formal, and the 
school does not come to grips adequately with the critical 
social problems of the times. But the pressure for redirec- 
tion, reorganization, and simplification is becoming very 
great. The dam may break and the flood descend at any 

Dissatisfaction with the social content and orientation 
of the now traditional secondary-school curriculum has, 
in recent years, been rapidly mounting. If youth are 
to be given understanding of the social trends and critical 
social problems of this age of uncertainty, the school 
must make these trends and problems subjects of study. 
The need for a reorganization and redirection of educa- 
tion, especially at the secondary and higher levels, 
comparable to that initiated in the latter part of the 
eighteenth century, is imperative, and for a similar 
reason. A new social configuration demands a new 
education. If democracy is to be served, there is no time 
to lose. 

General and Vocational Education 

The problem of secondary and collegiate education 
today is for three reasons essentially a problem of 
general education. In an age of tension and transition, 
it is highly essential that all the people come under 
the influence of such a program of education for democ- 
racy as has been sketched in the preceding chapter. 
This need imposes heavy general-education responsi- 
bilities not only on the elementary school but on the 

[ 107 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

high school and college as well. The complexity of the 
contemporary scene demands an extension of the period 
of common or general education. 

Again, the new economic and social conditions are 
rapidly bringing universal secondary education and 
a steady increase in attendance at institutions of col- 
legiate and university rank. The economic prosperity 
of the country for more than a century accounted in 
large measure for the amazing development of our high 
schools. The people could afford high schools and could 
afford to send their children to them. Now youth are no 
longer required to do the work of the country, with the 
result that the age of entering upon employment is being 
gradually advanced. Indeed, one of the most serious 
problems that confronts the country today is the 
youth problem, which is in large measure the problem of 
finding remunerative and worth-while employment for 
eager young men and women. This condition has operated 
to produce a steady increase in high-school enrollment 
even during the depression years. The enrollment in the 
elementary school is now declining everywhere, because 
of the falling birth rate, but the secondary-school 
enrollment is still increasing and will continue to increase 
until, within a few years, all youth to the age of eighteen 
or twenty are in some kind of school. 

Finally, changes in industrial processes are necessi- 
tating a different type of education for work. For many 
of the automatic machine processes little specific techni- 
cal preparation is essential, and this little can often best 
be provided on the job or in a factory school. What 
industry requires is, rather, general intelligence and 
adaptability. A rapidly advancing technology produces 
constant changes in the skilled and semitechnical 
occupations, doing away with the old occupations and 
bringing in new ones. The best preparation for entrance 

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A Social Program for the American School 

into these vocations is a good general education, with 
special attention to science and the mechanical arts 
or to the applied social sciences, as the case may be. 
The operation of these conditions is pushing vocational 
education into the upper years of the secondary school, 
or the junior college. It is evident that the junior college 
should provide for many youth terminal vocational 
and technical education for the semitechnical occu- 
pations. But the element of general education in all 
these courses should be large. Thus the requirements of 
vocational and technical education are enhancing the 
importance of general education. 

These profound changes are operating to extend the 
American common-school program to include the two 
years above the senior high school to provide a junior- 
college education for some and vocational or technical 
education for others. The junior-college movement is 
growing rapidly, especially in the western states. The 
optimum organization for the public schools, so far as 
school units are concerned, may be the one worked out 
in Pasadena and other places, which calls for an ele- 
mentary school for children from three or four to twelve 
and a four-year high school followed by a four-year 
junior college or vocational school. University and profes- 
sional education would then begin, for many at least, 
at about the junior year of the American college. But 
the traditional four-year liberal-arts college will beyond 
doubt long play an important part in our scheme of 

The Subject Matter and Activities of 
Social Education 

Contemporary American culture, then, becomes the 
center of gravity or the locus of general education, 
for if there is any universal principle available for the 

[ 109 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

guidance of the educator, it is that the needs and pur- 
poses of education are always found in the needs of the 
society that it serves. We find here the guiding prin- 
ciple for the selection of the subject matter and activities 
of the curriculum. Education oriented to the cultures 
of the past will not serve the needs of American democ- 
racy in the time of its greatest ordeal, when democracy 
itself hangs in the balance. Education that stops short 
of the problems of today, that does not come to grips 
with these problems will prove a positive menace. 

Viewed from this standpoint, subject matter and 
activities have no intrinsic educational values. Their 
values are instrumental. One may study mathematics, or 
read history or the English classics for the sheer joy 
of it. Capacity for enjoyment of this kind is not an 
unworthy outcome of education, but an individual who 
has acquired no other capacities or interests cannot 
possibly be considered as equipped for participation 
in the responsibilities and satisfactions of contemporary 
life. He will not be a very useful citizen. So far as his 
value to the community is concerned, he may be of little 
more worth than a devotee of crossword puzzles. It may 
be noted in passing that even if this older aristocratic 
and classical conception of the purpose of education is 
accepted, the experiences, the subject matter, and 
activities required to develop him serve a purely instru- 
mental purpose. They are of necessity selected with such 
an end product in view by those planning his education. 

There have probably been no greater or more danger- 
ous fallacies in modern education than those inherent 
in the beliefs that the mastery of certain bodies of subject 
matter has special value for mental discipline or that 
familiarity with the ideas advanced by the great minds 
of the past of itself has a superior disciplinary value in 
equipping one for living in the present. A curriculum 

[ HO] 

A Social Program for the American School 

justified on such a basis will always be loaded with 
antiquated materials constituting a positive obstacle to 
education for living in the modern world, both because 
of their irrelevance and because vital ideas, materials, 
and activities will thus be crowded out. This conception 
still has a strong grip on the secondary school and 
accounts in large measure for its failures in providing 
youth the education that the times require. 

Let it be clearly understood that this is not an argu- 
ment for or against the exclusion or inclusion of particular 
subject matter or experiences. It is to say that experi- 
ences should be planned and that they should be 
selected and planned with reference to the educational 
purposes in view. It is obvious that the study of the 
history and role of the Supreme Court will better equip 
American youth to understand the problems of American 
democracy today than will a detailed study of the 
Peloponnesian War or of the campaigns of Cromwell. 
Some knowledge of the English Revolution of the 
seventeenth century is, however, essential to an adequate 
understanding of our political system. Or, again, it is 
much more important to understand the ideas of Dewey 
than of Thomas Aquinas. A study of St. Thomas may 
of itself give but little understanding of contemporary 
problems, for he was concerned with the problems of an 
earlier age. But the writings of James and Dewey, 
which are concerned with the problems of the modern 
world, contain a criticism of ideas held by St. Thomas 
and also take cognizance of the tremendous intellectual 
impact of modern science. A list of classics to be studied 
by youth that stops a half century short of the present 
or a college conducted like a medieval monastery are 
educational absurdities. A curriculum for elementary 
and secondary schools that is not focused directly on 
our culture, that does not provide experiences that 

i in ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

prepare for living in this culture, that does not consist 
primarily of living intelligently in this culture, is equally 
an educational absurdity. 

It hardly seems necessary to say that this is not to 
contend that knowledge of the past is of no value in 
understanding contemporary civilization. Indeed, the 
present can be understood only in terms of its historical 
development. Many classics of thought and art deal 
with problems and values as pertinent to our age as to 
the age that produced them and are essential to the 
understanding of our age. The American school has 
given all too little attention to ideas. It is true, none- 
theless, that the guiding principle for planning the exper- 
iences to be provided by the school are found in the needs 
and problems of contemporary life. A curriculum thus 
planned will have more intellectual substance and 
challenge than a traditional curriculum, good for another 
age, can possibly have. 

Planning the Program of the School 

The establishment of this principle, however, does 
not give us a plan for the program of the school. The 
problem of planning is complicated, difficult, and con- 
troversial and has been obfuscated rather than clarified 
by much of the recent discussion. 

Historically, the elementary and secondary schools 
have embodied different philosophies and purposes. 
The secondary school was designed for the education of 
the select and favored few destined to position and 
leadership in society. The elementary or common school 
was, on the other hand, designed for the education of 
the common people, of the masses. In European coun- 
tries the distinction between these schools and their 
functions has been sharp. In Germany the Volkschule 

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A Social Program for the American School 

was for the people, the Gymnasium for the more privi- 
leged orders. This aristocratic tradition has persisted 
even to the present time, even in American education. 
Greater social prestige has attached to teaching in 
the high school than in the elementary school. It is 
interesting, too, that this conception of the function 
of the two schools has been curiously supported lately 
by certain psychologists who have held that there are 
sharp breaks in the development or growth of the 
individual, that the break between pubescence and 
adolescence is, for example, always sudden and sharply 
defined. The tools of learning would be acquired in the 
elementary school ; education would begin in the second- 
ary school. This theory no longer has much support 
among competent psychologists. Growth is now regarded 
as continuous and unbroken, though the rate may be 
faster at certain times than at others. It is, however, 
always interesting to observe how "scientific" support 
can be adduced for traditional practice. The high school 
has become as much a school of the people as is the 
elementary school. The old distinctions are no longer 

Two schools of thought relative to the planning of 
the curriculum are discernible today. One holds that 
the traditional subject-matter organization that has been 
developed in the last two or three centuries is sound and 
should be continued. Inherent in this view are the con- 
ceptions that each body of subject matter has intrinsic 
educational value and that it should be chronologically 
or logically arranged for teaching. According to this 
point of view, the curriculum would be planned in detail 
in advance, and it has been so planned in the conven- 
tional school. Learning becomes largely a memoriter 
process. That such a curriculum cannot, in the nature 
of the case, be centered squarely and effectively in the 

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Education for Democracy in Our Time 

needs of contemporary life seems obvious, though it 
must be confessed that this point of view has among its 
ardent defenders many who believe education should 
be concerned with the problems of contemporary life. 
This is a bit difficult to understand. It is one of the 
mysteries of contemporary American education. 

The other conception of the way in which educational 
experiences should be planned is that which has been 
advanced by some of the proponents of progressive 
education. This view lays great emphasis on the role of 
experience and on the importance of process in education. 
Experience and process are all-important; and con- 
temporary life provides the scene and substance of 
education. Since the process is so vital, particular experi- 
ences and particular bodies of subject matter have 
seemed not so important so long as the experiences are 
concerned with real problems of living and are of interest 
and concern to the learner. The interests of the learner 
are of vital importance, for learning is much more 
effective when the learner is interested; indeed it is 
effective only if it is strongly motivated by his interest. 
Education should, then, be concerned with the problems 
of children, youth, or adults, as the case may be, for 
these are the problems of real life, of social living. Social 
problems are central in such a program. But according 
to this view, it is undesirable, indeed impossible, to 
plan with defmiteness the activities either for a given 
year or for the elementary or the high-school curriculum 
as a whole. Too much planning in advance is a bad 
thing, bound to interfere with the educative process. 
The nature of the process is such that the learners 
should share in the planning of their own learning 
activities. It is not surprising, therefore, that in schools 
operating in accordance with this view children may be 
kept, unwittingly, too long on one level of experience, 

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A Social Program for the American School 

that there may be gaps in their experiences, that some 
experiences and much knowledge and many of the 
insights and understandings essential to their education 
for living in the contemporary world are almost certain 
to be neglected or omitted entirely for many individuals. 
Such a policy unavoidably tends in the direction of 
anarchy, although the validity of much of the theory on 
which the view under consideration is based is, in the 
opinion of the writer, beyond question. 

These opposed points of view as to planning the 
curriculum operate simultaneously within most American 
schools today, adding confusion to confusion. Practice 
falls usually somewhere between the two views but is 
confused. What is the way out? Reconciliation of the 
two views is obviously impossible. But it cannot be too 
strongly emphasized that planning is inherent in both 
conceptions. The proponents of the more extreme " pro- 
gressive 77 type of education, with all their insistence on 
freedom and opposition to imposition, are planners. 
Their choice of method is a plan. What is needed is a 
frank recognition of the necessity of planning, based 
on defensible educational principles, that will provide 
the type of social education that the times require and 
that will utilize whatever is valid and defensible in the 
two points of view. It is obvious that neither point 
of view is longer wholly tenable. New ground must be 

Our knowledge of the nature of the individual and 
of the educative process, of the social situation and 
of the social and educational needs of American life 
are, I am confident, sufficient to enable us to plan a 
fairly effective school. The problem is, of course, com- 
plicated and difficult, and our knowledge is not and 
never can be entirely adequate to the needs. But the 
essential principles seem fairly clear and have been 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

at least partially developed in this discussion. An 
extensive treatment is neither possible nor necessairy 
here, but our purpose requires further consideration of 
the more basic of these principles. 

We must hold clearly in view the fact that education 
for democracy must be concerned with living in con- 
temporary culture and with the improvement of that 
culture in accordance with the principles and ideals of 
democracy. This is the primary guiding principle for the 
selection of the subject matter and activities of general 
education and is the controlling factor in determining 
the methods of education. Methods must be consistent 
with purposes. The knowledge, skills, and attitudes 
that come from experience critically examined, from 
activity on the part of the learner, increasingly self- 
directed but involving cooperation with others for the 
common good, are paramount. 

The growth or development of the individual is 
continuous, is without sharp breaks. Special capacities 
and interests are likely to emerge early. Some interests 
may lapse; others will arise. It follows that education 
at all levels should be based not only on one social 
philosophy but on identical psychological principles. 
The educational program of the school should, then, 
be viewed as a whole from the earliest years to the 
college or the university. Education should be planned 
to provide those common experiences, understandings, 
insights, attitudes, appreciations, and social skills essen- 
tial to the preservation and realization of democracy. 
Gaps and omissions cannot be tolerated. At the same 
time, provision for individual differences, for the cultiva- 
tion of special interests and aptitudes should not be 
entirely deferred to the high school but should be char- 
acteristic of education at all levels. Upon the high school 
and the junior college, however, must rest the responsi- 

[ 116] 

A Social Program for the American School 

bility for providing for the serious development of special 
aptitudes and for the beginning of specialization. 

If education is to be effective, careful attention 
must be given to the mastery of the intellectual tools 
and skills essential to effective learning at each level of 
development. These tools and skills will be most eco- 
nomically mastered in a context of interest and under- 
standing on the part of the learner. It is, however, 
essential that the individual be not hampered by failure 
to acquire these tools and skills at the proper time. 

Much adult guidance is essential with young children, 
but the purpose of education in a democracy is constantly 
to lessen the necessity for this guidance as the learner 
grows older, to enable him increasingly to direct his own 
activities, to achieve freedom through self-discipline 
and direction. There is much that is specious in the 
doctrines of freedom and of the child-centered school 
that have had such a wide vogue in recent years. The 
interests of children can never provide a program of 
education. This can only be derived from a study of 

Since all experiences educate, educational planning 
must take into account the whole life of the child in 
school, home, and community. Effective education 
requires the cooperation of parents, educators, and 
citizens generally. It is of basic importance that teachers 
who must carry on the educative processes share in all 
this educational planning. 

It seems obvious, then, that education should be 
consciously planned, for education is always purposive. 
The revolt against the rigidity and sterility of the old 
curriculum is understandable. Revolt was necessary. 
Any plan must provide for the values in what has come 
to be called progressive education, which means that 
our plans must be flexible enough to permit the process 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

of education to go on, must further, not impede, this 
process. The choice is, however, not a choice between 
cast-iron prescription and anarchy. 

A Functional Curriculum 

These principles do not of themselves constitute a 
plan, least of all the plan of education for the American 
school, but they are, in the opinion of the writer, valid 
principles for planning. Within the framework of these 
principles a considerable variety of procedures is, beyond 
question, both possible and desirable, especially at 
this particular time, when we are just beginning the 
task of reconstructing American education in terms of a 
new social configuration. The growing amount of cur- 
riculum experimentation at the elementary, secondary, 
and college levels, and even in the universities, is very 
promising. But much more thorough study of the 
problems involved and much further experimentation 
is needed before planning can be made most effective. 

It will be observed that these principles stem from the 
same philosophy as does the progressive-education 
movement and call for the embodiment in the procedures 
of the school of most of the practices of this movement 
but reject its tendency toward irresponsibility and even 
anarchy and its tendency to develop an exaggerated, 
socially irresponsible individualism. At the same time, 
the validity of particular bodies of subject matter for 
particular educational purposes, the necessity of organiz- 
ing one's knowledge in a given field to make it most 
effective, and the necessity of aiming directly at the 
development in youth of desired understandings, loyal- 
ties, attitudes, and habits are inherent in these principles. 

While no one plan is dictated by these principles, 
the broad outlines of a curriculum constructed in 
accordance with them seem to emerge clearly. 

[ 118] 

A Social Program for the American School 

1. Such a program would provide a central core of 
experiences common for all, constituting what is some- 
times called a "core curriculum. " This may be managed 
in one broad, integrated field or in two or more closely 
interrelated and correlated areas. The experimentation 
with projects and units of work at the elementary 
level, with integrated courses, such as the culture 
courses at the Lincoln School devoted to the study of 
American culture in its historical development and con- 
temporary manifestations, accomplishments, trends, 
stresses, strains, and needs, the experimentation with 
the contemporary-civilization course at Columbia Col- 
lege, the man-and-culture course and, more recently, 
the four broad field courses in the social sciences, the 
humanities, the physical sciences, and the biological 
sciences in the undergraduate college of the University of 
Chicago these and many other experiments have 
contributed to the development of this conception of the 
value of a central core that will extend from the kinder- 
garten through the college and will be concerned with 
our culture and its needs and with living in this 

In all this experimentation the focus of attention has 
been our own culture and its problems. The fact that at 
the secondary and college levels the approach may be 
historical, more or less chronological, does not of itself 
vitiate a plan, provided the subject matter and activities 
selected and the social orientation are always consistent 
with the principles that we have outlined. 

2. Understanding of the present must always include 
understanding of the way in which the present came 
about, of the forces that produced it. This obviously is 
more true of certain aspects of the present than of others. 
History is more essential for the understanding of the 
function and operation of the Supreme Court than of the 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

binomial theorem or of the laws of the physical universe 
or of the findings of the biological sciences. It is, however, 
essential that youth gain some conception of the ways in 
which mathematics and science have influenced the life 
and thought of man, have created a new world in modern 
times, and it is especially important that youth under- 
stand the conditions that favor scientific progress. This 
is a value that has been too much neglected, not only in 
the teaching of the sciences and mathematics but equally 
in the teaching of the social sciences. 

The idea that the past is of little importance in educa- 
tion for living today is as great a fallacy as the notion 
that education should be oriented to the cultures and 
ideas of the past and should prize them above the culture 
and the thoiight of our own times. The curriculum for 
the new school will be definitely planned to include 
study of the past wherever it is essential to understand- 
ing the present. The notion that children and youth or 
adults are not interested in the past when it is related to 
their own life and problems is one of the new myths 
in education. 

3. In planning this curriculum the old arbitrary and 
sharp division between elementary and secondary educa- 
tion and between secondary and collegiate education 
will disappear. There will be no sharp breaks. Coopera- 
tion between teachers of the various levels will be essen- 
tial. Although each level will have its own problems and 
responsibilities, the differences will be regarded as quan- 
titative rather than qualitative. 

4. In the elementary school some provision will need 
to be made to ensure mastery of certain essential skills, 
as, for example, reading. In this work every validated 
scientific technique should be utilized by the teacher. It 
is extremely doubtful, however, that there is validity in 
many of the usual practices of the elementary school, as, 

[ 120 ] 

A Social Program for the American School 

for example, formal instruction in arithmetic in the early 

5. The high school, at least in the cities, will offer most 
of the subjects of the present curriculum, but under such 
a plan subjects will be pursued by those who are genu- 
inely interested in them and have the requisite abilities. 
Subject teaching will parallel the core curriculum. There 
is no reason why the ancient languages, for example, 
should be completely banished. Perhaps more of the 
modern languages will be offered than at the present 
time. But youth will no longer be required to study the 
languages for their alleged superior disciplinary and cul- 
tural values. Isolated as we are, for the great majority 
of American youth the study of foreign languages can 
have little value. The place of vocational and technical 
education has already been discussed. The curriculum of 
the small high school will be liberated from the incubus 
of outworn ideas the prescription of subject matter of 
little interest or value to the majority of its students 
and focused on the vital processes and problems of con- 
temporary life. In this connection it must be pointed out 
that a curriculum for the small high school with adequate 
choices depends on the creation of larger administrative 
units and on adequate financing of education in the rural 
regions, problems that will be considered in the two 
following chapters. 

6. Teaching in every subject-matter area will be re- 
directed. In the arts the student will be concerned with 
the aesthetic problems of contemporary life. For example, 
the study of community planning, both material and 
cultural, will receive the attention that it deserves and 
will challenge the creative abilities of youth in every 
medium of expression, in literature, in music, in the 
graphic, plastic, and industrial arts, in architecture, in 
design of the home and in many other ways. Youth will 

[ 121 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

become students and critics of the contemporary arts 
and literature. Historical perspective will again be essen- 
tial. Physical education, home economics, science, the 
social studies, speech, and the dramatic arts, all will be 
affected. All need reconstruction and redirection. 

7. Upon this school and the education it will afford 
children and youth will be built a varied program of adult 
education. This program will provide opportunities for 
continued vocational and technical education, or reeduca- 
tion, opportunity for the cultivation of scholarly, artistic, 
or leisure interests, and, above all, opportunity for the 
study and discussion of economic, political, and social 
problems. In a society characterized by rapid change and 
transition opportunities for adult education are of su- 
preme importance. 

8. The school should not and cannot be a thing apart 
from the community if it is to serve its rightful purpose. 
Our plan must, then, provide for the fullest possible par- 
ticipation of children and youth in community life. The 
school itself partakes of the nature of a community. The 
children should manage the life of the school in so far as 
possible, and increasingly as they mature. Nothing should 
be done for youth in or out of school that they can do 
for themselves. This does not minimize the function of 
the teacher as a guide. Rather, under such a system, it 
is increased. 

It is unfortunate that our society makes so small a 
provision for the participation of youth in community 
life and in socially useful work. Since children must be 
protected from exploitation, child-labor legislation is 
essential in the kind of society in which we now live. But 
children should not be denied the joy and educative 
experience of actual participation in work and in com- 
munity activities. Though limited, there are still nu- 
merous opportunities for such activities. Professor Paul 

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A Social Program for the American School 

Hanna has reported in a little book entitled Youth Serves 
the Community 1 a number of instances of such socially 
useful participation by youth in civic activities. 

The community and its problems must furnish much 
of the subject matter for study in the school. Such prob- 
lems as the relations of labor and capital, housing, 
unemployment are all community problems. For the com- 
munity is not only the locality but the state, the nation, 
and the world. 

9. All these principles apply to education at the col- 
lege level. The university also must operate in this same 
social frame of reference, but this discussion is concerned 
primarily with the schools. 

Discipline and Culture 

Intellectual discipline and the acquisition of an intellec- 
tual orientation and outlook must be one of the impor- 
tant purposes of this general education. Some knowledge 
of the scientific method, the ability to assemble perti- 
nent data, to scrutinize it carefully, to make the inferences 
and only the inferences that the data warrant, the ability 
to see relationships, the ability to look, and the habit 
of looking, beneath the surface of things should be 
acquired by every individual. It is highly essential that 
youth become aware of the necessity of subjecting all 
their beliefs, too often mere folklore, to critical examina- 
tion. All this is imperative in a world in which propaganda 
plays so important a role as it has come to play in the 
modern world. If American education could do no more 
than make youth aware of the propaganda that beats 
upon them and give them ability to spot it, it would 
more than justify all that it costs. The mastery of the 
discipline and methodology of a given intellectual field, 

1 Paul R. Hanna, Youth Serves the Community, D. Appleton-Century, 

[ 123 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

as of the physical sciences, of politics, or of philosophy, 
belongs in the university rather than in the school or 
even in college. 

Again, it must be emphasized that no aspect of culture 
should be neglected. Culture will be interpreted neither 
so broadly as to be meaningless, nor in any narrow 
intellectual or artistic sense. All that really enriches 
personal and social living must be the concern of the 
school. It cannot be too often emphasized that the enrich- 
ment of life now is essential to the building of the culture 
that we desire for the America of the future. 

Scholarship of the Teacher 

Such a program of education will require more, not 
less, of scholarship on the part of the American teacher. 
To insist that education should be concerned with knowl- 
edge that is functional makes knowledge not less, but 
more, important. Such an integrated, socially oriented, 
active type of education can be carried out only by teach- 
ers who are scholars in their respective fields. This pro- 
gram will require critical and creative scholarship at 
every point. It will require thoroughly equipped teachers 
in every intellectual area involved, in the social sciences, 
humanities, mathematics, in the arts, in physical educa- 
tion, in home economics, in all the vocational and tech- 
nical fields. 

But the scholarship of teachers must include more than 
proficiency in their respective fields of teaching. The 
teacher must also be a student of theories of education, 
of American society in its world setting and of the social 
relationships and responsibilities of education. There 
can be no more important and challenging study. The 
educational system will require the services of many 
highly trained professional workers psychologists, doc- 
tors of medicine, social workers, specialists in research, 

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A Social Program for the American School 

and many other technicians, all of whom must be scholars 
in their respective fields. Each must see his work in its 
larger relationship to the total educational and social 

Popular education has become one of the major intel- 
lectual and social undertakings of modern times. 

[ 125] 



ONE docs not have to look far to find ample authority 
for the statement that American democracy faces 
few problems so critical as the control and administra- 
tion of education. Of all the agencies of culture and 
communication that the modern world has brought into 
existence, the public school is the most potent for mould- 
ing the minds of the people. The administration of popu- 
lar education is, therefore, a complex problem involving 
every critical social, moral, economic, and political issue 
of the times. It is not too much to say that the fate of 
our free institutions hangs on the answer to the question 
of who shall control the schools and how they are to be 

If education is to serve its rightful purpose, control 
must be vested in the entire people. Schools that are 
controlled by a particular group in society, whether 
political or religious, or by a social class will be bent 
to the purposes of that group or class. Whenever the 
interests of such a class or group run counter to the inter- 
ests of the larger social whole, the schools will be made 
the tool of these special interests, and will be employed 
against the real public interest. American democracy 
permits the operation, under the law, of private and 
parochial schools that are only indirectly subject to 
public control. But this privilege, desirable though it 

[ 126] 

Control and Administration 

may be under existing conditions, does not vitiate the 
principle that the final control of education should be 
lodged with the entire people. Democracy's schools 
should, likewise, be administered in accordance with the 
principles and purposes of democracy. Autocratic meth- 
ods cannot be employed to achieve democratic purposes. 
American education today is too much under the influ- 
ence of one social class, and there is too much of the 
autocratic in its administration. 

There can, of course, never be any assurance that the 
majority will not be led away from the methods and 
purposes of democracy. The danger of the majority's 
becoming tyrannical is one of the great risks of democracy 
that calls for education and constant vigilance. It is also 
true that a minority may have the interest of the whole 
people at heart. Our civil liberties open the way through 
freedom of press, assembly, and speech for criticism of 
all policies and proposals and for a minority to become 
a lawful majority. The role of education in the mainte- 
nance of this open road of intellectual and political liberty 
is crucial. If the schools are long controlled by special 
interests, these interests will, in the end, make education 
in their own image. 

The Unique Function of Education in a Democracy 

Because of its unique function, the control of education 
has been set apart from the other processes of govern- 
ment in the United States. This practice, although the 
product rather of circumstances than of design, recog- 
nizes that either a majority or a minority may be tem- 
porarily tyrannical and destructive of the true purposes 
of education. This policy assumes that education in a 
democracy, in the short run at least, should be placed 
beyond and above partisan political control, that the 

[ 127 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

contribution of education to culture and to the highest 
social purposes and ideals is so fundamental and so 
precious that it must be accorded the maximum of 
freedom and stability. Schools and teachers are, in a 
peculiar sense, the custodians of those great intellectual 
and humanitarian values that are the heritage of the 
entire race, that transcend national boundaries, and 
that are being blotted out in the authoritarian countries 
today. In and beyond the enrichment and transmission 
of this priceless heritage, education has a peculiar crea- 
tive contribution to make to a liberal society. It is to 
protect these functions that education has been given so 
much of political and fiscal independence in this country. 
This historic policy does not lessen the responsibility 
of the school for social and political education but is 
designed rather to enable the schools the more fearlessly 
and effectively to discharge these functions. As Charles 
A. Beard has expressed it, 

. . . When the processes and ends of our democratic society 
are placed above the exigencies of partisan politics and the 
immediate advantages of power, then it becomes evident that 
education as a safeguard and preparation for democratic 
living must not be subjected every hour and in every way 
to the unrestrained control of men and women lifted into 
political office for a brief term by the fortunes of campaigns 
and elections. 

. . . Committed by its historical and immediate obligations 
to cherishing and advancing the funded wisdom, knowledge, 
and aspirations of the race, education carries responsibilities 
which outrun the fortunes of annual, biennial, or quadrennial 
elections, the ups and downs of parties, the twists and turns 
of public opinion. ... It is concerned with all the humane 
interests which shape society, government, and public policies, 
and give richness to individual life. The very nature of such 
obligations and undertakings accords to education in the 


Control and Administration 

United States a special position among the administrative 
services of government. 1 

Many students of politics and of public finance have 
insisted in recent years that since education is an activity 
of government, it should be subjected to the same ad- 
ministrative and budgetary controls as any other branch 
of government. This argument is plausible, but it over- 
looks more basic considerations. Education should, of 
course, be efficiently and economically administered, 
but it should be kept in mind always that efficiency and 
economy must be defined in terms of purposes and 
responsibilities and that economy and parsimony are not 
synonyms in the parlance of public affairs. The funda- 
mental desideratum is that the schools be kept free if 
they are to serve their primary purpose of social educa- 
tion. In support of the wisdom of the policy of removing 
the control of education as far as possible from the 
struggles of partisan politics, while keeping it directly 
in control of the people, it is only necessary to cite the 
power that can be wielded over policy and budgets by 
financially interested, reactionary social groups or by 
uninformed and often hysterical popular movements. 

It does not follow from this that political parties have 
no responsibilities with respect to public education. Far 
from it. It is incumbent on every party that professes 
interest in the general welfare to support and protect 
education in accordance with these essential principles 
of freedom and independence. The members of state 
legislatures and of the Federal Congress are elected, with 
rare exceptions, on party tickets. Every year educational 
legislation becomes more important in the deliberations 

1 The Unique Function of Education in American Democracy , by Charles 
A. Beard, for the Educational Policies Commission of the National 
Education Association, 1937. This is the best discussion of this problem 
of which the writer is aware. 

[ 129] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

of these bodies. As a matter of fact, political parties can- 
riot and will not, in the future, ignore education. But the 
public interest demands that the schools should not be 
utilized as an agency of party propaganda or for patron- 
age purposes, that they should be kept out of the hands 
of corrupt political machines like the Thompson machine 
in Chicago, the Hague machine in Jersey City, or Tam- 
many in New York City, and their counterparts in smaller 

Local and Lay Control of Education in the 
United States 

In two respects educational policy in the United States 
is sharply differentiated from educational policy in 
European countries by the single educational ladder 
and by the extent of local and lay control of the schools. 
The ideal has been to provide equal educational opportu- 
nity for all. The schools have, at the same time, been 
to a remarkable degree directly controlled by the citi- 
zens of the locality. 

The structure of the educational system and its de- 
centralized control can be understood only in the light 
of its historical evolution. The colonies recognized the 
importance of education and enacted legislation pro- 
viding for the establishment of schools, but when the 
Federal Constitution was drafted, mention of the sub- 
ject of education was omitted, and control of education 
was thus reserved to the states. The records of the pro- 
ceedings of the Constitutional Convention would seem 
to indicate that many of its members believed that the 
general-welfare clause gave ample power to Congress to 
participate in the promotion and support of educational 
institutions. It is known that the matter was discussed. 
Many of the leading statesmen of the period held that 
popular education was essential to the welfare of the 

[ 130] 

Control and Administration 

republic. It is a fact, nevertheless, that the control of 
schools was left to the individual states, in sharp dis- 
tinction to the highly centralized control in most Euro- 
pean countries. 

Schools were first organized in the isolated frontier 
settlements as a function of local government. Colonial 
and, later, state laws prescribed the manner in which 
these schools should be controlled and supported. In 
time special school committees or boards of education, 
chosen by the people, were organized under state laws 
for the control of public schools. Support was, in the 
beginning, entirely by local taxation. In time, as the 
system expanded, school administrators drawn from 
the ranks of the teachers became a necessity. In time 
state departments of education were established and 
given control over many matters. State-supported 
colleges, universities, and professional schools were es- 
tablished. Grants of land were made by the Federal 
government for the support of schools in the newer 
states, and especially in recent years state taxes have 
been levied for the support of the common schools. 

But the system of local control has continued down to 
the present time. This explains the persistence of small 
administrative units and other practices long beyond the 
period of their usefulness. There are still more than 
125,000 school districts in this country. It is now gen- 
erally recognized that only by the consolidation of 
one-room school districts into larger administrative units 
can well-rounded educational programs be offered in 
rural communities. The process of consolidation has 
proceeded slowly, partly on account of the failure of the 
advocates of consolidation to understand the history 
and the deep-seated prejudices that lie back of this 
system through failure of the educator to understand 
the American and particularly the rural mind. 

[ 131 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

Local control, when modified to meet changed condi- 
tions, has values of the greatest significance in the 
present troubled period of our history. By keeping the 
schools close to the people, the interest of the people in 
education is greatly enhanced. It is, of course, erroneous 
to conclude that local control is the only system con- 
sistent with the principle of democracy. The control of 
tax-supported education in England, France, and the 
British dominions is much more highly centralized but 
is also fairly democratic. In England local control with 
reference to certain matters is combined with national 
control with respect to others. Our system of state and 
local control still seems peculiarly adapted to a country 
of such vast size and to the political genius and tradi- 
tions of our people. Of peculiar importance in our time, 
it will always be much more difficult to regiment a 
system controlled locally than one controlled from the 
national capital. 

The New Economic and Political Configuration 

But this system of local control has developed defi- 
ciencies that need to be corrected. The conditions that 
originally produced this structure have long since given 
way to a new economic, political, and social configura- 
tion. This new configuration demands at many points 
far-reaching modifications in the control, administra- 
tion, and support of education, some of which are already 
well under way. 

The old frontier has vanished. Except on the vast 
plains of some of the Western states and in some of the 
mountainous and forest regions, the isolation of the early 
frontier is not known today to any family or community, 
and these exceptions must always be treated as special 
cases. The entire country has been settled, knit together 
by modern agencies of communication and transporta- 

[ 132] 

Control and Administration 

tion. Old political units are, in many instances, becoming 
obsolete. The county was suited in size to the means of 
transportation of pioneer times, when a trip to the county 
seat, now a matter of a few minutes, was a day's journey 
or more. A movement is now under way in a number of 
states for the consolidation of small counties into larger 
and more economical administrative units. These changed 
conditions also make larger administrative units for the 
schools practicable. A one-room school can never provide 
an adequate program for education. Only through larger 
units, which should conform to natural community lines 
as well as to political boundaries, can good schools for 
all be provided. This principle of consolidation will 
strengthen, not weaken, the principle of local control. 

The Social Control of Education 

A clear distinction should always be made between the 
legal machinery of government, or for the control of 
education, and the forces that actually control. It is 
very well to talk about a government of laws and not 
of men, but control is always exercised by human beings. 
This control may be exerted through regularly consti- 
tuted legal channels, or it may take the form of pressure, 
overt or otherwise, on public officials, teachers, admin- 
istrators, or boards of education, as the case may be. 

Actual control of education, as of government, will 
always be exercised by the dominant social forces or 
groups in society, and this is no less true in the United 
States than in other countries. We have sought to remove 
the control of public schools as far as possible from the 
capriciousness of the moment and from the operation of 
selfish interests, keeping this control thoroughly demo- 
cratic at the same time, but in the last analysis education 
will be controlled by the same forces that control the 
other political and social functions and that set the 

[ 133 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

patterns of culture. Many of these influences are inherent 
in the long history of a community or a culture and are 
deep-seated and subtle in their operation. Cultural dif- 
ferences between sections and communities in the United 
States affect all social institutions. The New England 
mind and outlook, for example, has differed traditionally 
in important respects from the mentality of the southern 
part of the country with regard to many social problems. 
These differences are reflected in education. But it is 
with the more overt and potent forces and trends in 
American life that we are primarily concerned here. 

At this point it is necessary to revert to our earlier 
analysis of the structure and dynamics of American 
society and of the nature of the social crisis upon which 
we are entering. Policy in the United States, whether 
economic, political, or social, eventuates from the 
struggle of interest groups. Our government has been 
described as " government by pressure groups." Organ- 
ized groups, of almost infinite variety, in a democracy 
such as ours seek to mould economic, political, and social 
policy. The concern of these interest groups with educa- 
tion has rapidly increased in the last thirty years. Miss 
Bessie Pierce 1 found over two hundred national organiza- 
tions representing important economic or political 
interests striving to influence education to the extent 
of having made official pronouncements on the subject. 
Most of these exert overt and often powerful pressures 
of one kind or another. And most of them are operating 
in highly controversial social areas. 

Tt is in the economic and political areas that the great- 
est tensions exist today, and, as we have seen, economic 
and political problems have their far-reaching social 
and educational ramifications and implications. How 

1 Bessie L. Pierce, Citizens 1 Organizations and the Civic Training of 
Youth, Scribner's, 1933. 


Control and Administration 

much of the national income shall be expended on educa- 
tion? Shall controversial economic, political, and social 
problems be studied in the schools? From what point of 
view shall these problems be studied? What methods 
of teaching employed? The democratic or authoritarian? 
Shall youth be told what the truth is in these areas or be 
encouraged to make objective and critical studies of 
problems in the light of the democratic ideals? How 
shall the schools be administered? Who shall serve on the 
school board? What part shall teachers have in the 
formulation of policy? The groups that are working to 
prevent or to bring about changes in American life in 
these areas are intensely concerned that the influence 
of education in moulding the minds of the younger gen- 
eration, and of adults, should be on their side. And so 
organized labor, chambers of commerce, associations of 
manufacturers and of bankers, bar associations, organ- 
ized farmers, the American Legion, the Daughters of 
the American Revolution, and many other patriotic 
societies, religious and racial groups bring pressures to 
bear to influence educational policy. And so do peace 
societies and groups promoting moral reforms of one 
kind or another. And so do organized educational groups 
local and state teachers' organizations, the American 
Federation of Teachers, the Progressive Education 
Association, the National Education Association, the 
Association of Land Grant Colleges, and many others. 
The class structure of American society, clearly mani- 
fest in the operation of these groups, is of the greatest 
significance both for politics and education. Such organi- 
zations as the United States Chamber of Commerce, the 
National Association of Manufacturers, and the Ameri- 
can Bar Association, and their local counterparts repre- 
sent the upper class, and, in the main, speak for the 
status quo, for the interests of property. There are, of 

[ 135 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

course, numerous individuals in these groups who have a 
much broader view of social needs, who are really de- 
voted to the public interest, a fact of great significance. 
Organizations of labor and of farmers speak for large 
sections of the middle class. The membership of various 
hereditary and other patriotic societies is drawn mostly 
from the great middle class, but an analysis of their 
pronouncements and policies will show that more often 
than otherwise these societies actively oppose desirable 
social changes, regrettable as this may be. Some of these 
"patriotic" societies have actively sponsored loyalty 
oaths for teachers and other legislation designed to con- 
trol teaching. 

Many educators shrink from such a frank recognition 
of the fact and significance of the operation of pressure 
groups and social classes in this country. But the fact 
of economic stratification has been demonstrated beyond 
question of doubt and is plain to be seen by any one who 
is not blind to the configuration of the society in which 
he lives. The vast majority of those who do the actual 
work of the country own no productive property, are 
without security, and are relatively inarticulate. The 
great body of manual and white-collar workers are still 
beyond the boundaries of labor unions and are unorgan- 
ized. To recognize the fact of class is not to advocate 
class war or to preach class antagonism. But understand- 
ing of the structure and dynamics of American society is 
absolutely essential if we are to proceed intelligently in 
the development of social and educational policies. It 
would seem perfectly obvious that a cultural and eco- 
nomic map of American society is essential to under- 
standing the problems of education and of its control and 
administration and to the formulation of any defensible 
social program for the American school. Without such 
a map it will be impossible to locate deficiencies or to 

[ 136 ] 

Control and Administration 

understand the resources available for the support of 
defensible policies. 

This is especially true in an era of profound social 
change and transition, in which the very continuance 
of democracy is at stake. In such a period the schools 
should not and cannot look to any single authority or 
organized group in society for guidance as to policy, least 
of all to those that are most vocal or that enjoy the 
greatest prestige and wield the greatest influence. For 
there is, by definition, as yet no consensus in the most 
controversial areas. An inconsequential minority may 
represent the best interests of the community. Moreover, 
in a democracy no area is ever closed to discussion, for 
a consensus of today may be modified tomorrow as a 
result of changed conditions, of the operation of pressure 
groups, or of new and pertinent information. The people, 
all the people, are, or should be, the final arbiters of 
policy in a democracy. But the mandate of the people 
is never clear in controversial matters. Upon educators, 
then, rests a responsibility for leadership that cannot 
be evaded. If educational administrators and teachers 
are to discharge their responsibility intelligently, they 
must understand the structure and dynamics of American 
society. For the problem of educational administration 
is, first of all, a problem of social and political leadership. 

It is confusing and misleading to think of the existence 
of interest groups and classes as morally bad. These are 
rather social facts, phenomena to be understood. The 
operation of pressure groups can be judged only from 
some point of view, and this should be from the point 
of view of democracy. Judged from this point of view, 
some are undesirable, others are working for the com- 
mon good. In few instances is a particular group either 
wholly good or wholly bad. In any event, it mut be clear 
that education cannot go it alone. It is too deeply en- 

[ 137 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

meshed in the purposes and the conflicts of American 
life. Educators must look for support to those individuals 
and groups that are working for the realization of 
democracy. Above all, the inarticulate masses must be 
informed and sensitized to social conditions and the way 
in which they are affected by them and to the value of 
education and the needs of the school. This is one of the 
major tasks of educational leadership. Only in the hands 
of an informed public can the interests of education be 
safe. Here is the most important latent source of sup- 
port for education. 

The problems of educational leadership are compli- 
cated and difficult in such a milieu but by no means 
hopeless. The proponents of genuine democracy have 
resources at their disposal. The ideals and habits of 
democracy are deeply ingrained in the people. Americans 
have great faith in education. Of course, every cause and 
every interest makes their appeal to democratic ideals, 
and if fascism ever comes here, it will come in the garb 
of Americanism and democracy. The question is whether 
our history and traditions will be employed in the inter- 
ests of the people or against them. The answer to that 
question will be determined to a considerable extent by 
the courage and quality of our educational leadership. 
There is no good and valid reason inherent in the situa- 
tion within our own country why educational leadership 
should fail. But if it is to succeed, it must go to the people, 
all the people. For in the people is the only power that 
can subdue the power wielded by inertia and by the in- 
trenched special interests in our society. 

Educational Administration for a Democracy 

This brings us now specifically to certain crucial prob- 
lems of educational administration involving boards of 
education, administrators, and teachers. 

I 138] 

Control and Administration 

The instrumentalities and processes of educational 
administration developed in the United States in response 
to social conditions and needs, without much conscious 
planning. Age-old traditions and practices, some desir- 
able and some undesirable, tend to persist. 

For example, the old conceptions of school discipline 
have continued almost to the present time. Although 
outmoded by newer conceptions, old practices persist 
in some schools. Again, although in this country the 
university has acquired a board of trustees and a perma- 
nent administrative staff, some elements of the medieval 
tradition, under which the university was governed by 
its faculty, have, fortunately, persisted. The faculties 
of universities still exercise more control over policy 
than do teachers in the schools. The administration of 
schools has been even more influenced by the practices of 
corporate business than has administration of higher 
institutions of learning. Many procedures have been 
taken over almost bodily from business. This was natural 
and in some instances good, but the time has now come 
for a critical evaluation of the processes of control and 
administration and for the development of procedures 
and techniques essential to the democratic purposes of 
education. For the administration of American schools 
and colleges has in many respects been undemocratic 
and in some instances autocratic and even authoritarian 
in character. It is not possible to treat here with any- 
thing approaching thoroughness or adequacy the many 
problems involved in a theory and practice of adminis- 
tration appropriate to our social needs and purposes 
today. But certain problems and principles are crucial 
and require our attention. 

Principles of Administration. An adequate theory of 
administration of education must take account of all 
the problems both of education and of administration. 

[ 139 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

Every procedure should accord with the aims of the 
schools. But these procedures should also accord with the 
principles of efficient administration. Just as surely as 
there are principles of education, there are also principles 
of good administration that may not, with impunity, 
be ignored nor violated. Many a school, college, and 
university administrator is a bungler for no other reason 
than that he has no conception of the processes of social 
leadership or of the requirements of administrative 
efficiency, for the two must be combined at every step. 
Many administrators have little conception of the neces- 
sity or the technique of delegating responsibility or of 
reposing confidence and authority in others. There is too 
little understanding of the two functions of policy mak- 
ing and of administration. Many teachers entertain 
bizarre and impractical notions of the meaning of democ- 
racy in administration. 

Administration must be efficient, but efficiency can 
be defined only in terms of the objectives sought. The 
smooth-running schools cannot be the controlling pur- 
pose of administration, for administration is not an end 
within itself, but an instrument. But the requirements of 
efficiency cannot for long be ignored. The problems of 
efficiency are manifold and include financial support, the 
handling of funds, the planning, erection, equipment, 
and maintenance of buildings, the internal organization, 
program, methods, and life of the school, and teaching. 
Every aspect of teaching is involved. The public should 
not, and if it understands, will not tolerate an inefficient 
and wasteful school. Unfortunately, the smooth-running 
school often gives a false appearance of efficiency at the 
same time that it is failing miserably as a school for 
democracy. Unfortunately, too, the public is too prone to 
indifference to its own interests and is likely to mistake 
appearances for realities in a technical field. 

[ 140] 

Control and Administration 

The problems of educational administration interlock 
with general social and governmental policy at numerous 
points. The maintenance of freedom of teaching is at 
bottom a political problem. The financial support of 
education involves practically all the problems of taxa- 
tion in state and nation. The sheer complexity of the 
educative process and the magnitude of the educational 
enterprise enhances the importance of the problem of 
administration, both in its theoretical and practical 
aspects. Its theoretical problems involve education, 
economics, and politics. Educational administration, 
in the planning of buildings, for example, draws upon 
fields as diverse as those of engineering, accounting, and 
aesthetics, and community planning. But the educational 
administrator should be, first of all, an educator. 

Boards of Control. The school committee, or board of 
education, or the college or university board of trustees, 
occupies a strategic position in the American system of 
education. Their powers to influence educational policy 
through control over budgets, buildings, equipment, and, 
more important, over personnel and curriculums, are 
very large and are likely to continue so for a long time to 

It would be difficult to overestimate the value of the 
contribution to our social life made in the past century 
by the host of men and women who served as members of 
boards of education. The record is one of unusual devo- 
tion to the highest interests of their communities. But 
this record has unfortunately too often been marred by 
men of limited social vision or of low civic morality. 
Studies have shown that only in the rural districts is the 
membership of boards truly representative of the people. 
In urban communities the membership is drawn almost 
entirely from the more favored classes economically, 
from the ranks of business and professional men, and 

[ 141 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

industrialists, including on the average one woman on 
each board, also drawn from the same class. Organized 
labor has had but scant representation, the great inartic- 
ulate mass of workers none at all. In a period of social 
or economic crisis the social and educational outlook of 
members of boards of control for both schools and higher 
institutions is of critical importance. These boards should 
represent the interests and aspirations of the entire people 
and not merely of a group or class. The business or pro- 
fessional man or woman makes a good member if genu- 
inely democratic in educational and social outlook and 
social sympathies. Otherwise, he cannot be trusted in a 
crisis or when the interests of his class are at stake, for 
his deepest prejudices will then betray him and the public 
interest. It is highly desirable that labor and the intellec- 
tual classes should have a larger representation on these 

The self-perpetuating boards of trustees of private 
schools, colleges, and universities, drawn as they are so 
largely from one class in society, constitute a special 
problem. Most of these boards have supported intelli- 
gently and often courageously the great traditions of in- 
tellectual freedom and of democracy, but there have been 
too many instances of interference with teaching either 
by direct or indirect pressure. The interests of democracy 
require that these boards be more representative of the 
people. The time may well come when it will be necessary 
for the public to intervene through appropriate legisla- 
tion for the modification of the charters of these institu- 
tions to ensure more representative boards of control 
and to confer greater autonomy on faculties within the 
limits of broad public policy. The public should not 
hesitate to take steps by law, where necessary to 
guarantee freedom of inquiry and teaching in every 
school, college, and university where youth are educated, 

[ 142 ] 

Control and Administration 

The mind of youth must not be shackled by any hier- 
archy, social, economic, political, or religious. The public 
has as deep concern in the education of youth in Law- 
renceville, or Groton, in Harvard, Columbia, or Notre 
Dame as in any other institution. 

The function of the board is to represent the public 
in the administration of education. It has become cus- 
tomary to say that it is the function of the board to 
determine policy, but this is a misleading doctrine. 
Certainly the function of the board is not administrative. 
Interference by a board in the actual process of admin- 
istration is certain to be disastrous. It is the responsibility 
of the board, however, to see to it that the schools are 
administered efficiently in accordance with the law and 
the best interests of the community. The board should 
be concerned primarily with policy, but if the interests 
of education are to be best served, it must share with the 
chief executive and his professional associates and with 
the community the determination of policies. It is essen- 
tial that the board actively participate in this process 
and hold, with respect to certain matters at least, a veto 
power. But the major responsibility for the actual formu- 
lation of educational policy must rest in the future with 
the educational profession. 

This does not mean that the responsibilities of the 
board and the contribution it can make are unimportant. 
They are, on the contrary, of supreme importance. The 
opportunities for social and educational leadership 
afforded by membership on boards of education are 

The Teacher and Administration. In a democracy all 
who are concerned with carrying out a policy or who are 
affected by it should participate in its formulation. The 
possible exceptions to this dictum are found in those 
enterprises of a highly technical or scientific nature in 

[ 143 J 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

which individuals without professional training must 
work under direction. But even in such instances pro- 
vision should be made for the suggestions that the non- 
technical worker may contribute. At any rate, the 
worker is concerned with the conditions of his employ- 
ment. But teaching is a creative process requiring the 
highest professional equipment and abilities and demand- 
ing of the practitioner both culture and scholarship. The 
teacher must be free to exercise his own initiative and 
judgment. Otherwise, he can never be in any true sense 
a professional worker. Furthermore, the interests of 
democracy require that all available sources of knowledge 
and experience be tapped in the formulation of policies. 
Out of their study and experience teachers have invalu- 
able contributions to make in the development of policies 
and programs. Finally, the professional development 
and growth, the very professional efficiency of the teacher 
require such participation. It is stultifying to work always 
under direction. It is responsibility that challenges, that 
stimulates to thought, that develops powers. 

While the two functions of policy making and of ad- 
ministration are distinguishable and separable for the 
purpose of study, they are in reality inseparable at many 
points. The functions can be distinguished for the pur- 
pose of analysis; but administrators are policy makers, 
and teachers are administrators. The administrative 
function is itself in considerable measure a teaching func- 
tion. The teacher is an administrator charged with the 
interpretation and execution of policy in the situation 
in which he works. Every administrative decision has 
an element of policy making in it. Much always depends 
on how policies are interpreted and carried out. 

Provisions for Teacher Participation. The spirit is 
more important than the letter of the law in this process 
of teacher participation, but provisions for the process 

[ 144] 

Control and Administration 

are essential. Formal rules and legal provisions should be 
reduced to a minimum and kept as simple as possible, 
for the tendency of all such rules is ultimately to bind 
and obstruct and to develop in the direction of red tape 
and bureaucracy. In a small school or school system the 
process can and should be largely informal. But the role 
of the administrator should never be paternalistic. His 
role is that of a colleague charged with a special respon- 
sibility. In larger school systems teachers' councils will 
be essential and should be provided for by rule of the 
board or, if necessary, by law. Such a council will provide 
a channel through which teachers may make positive 
suggestions and proposals. It will also provide the ad- 
ministrator with a means for consultation with teachers 
on many important issues. But a teacher council is not 
a substitute for the faculty meetings, group conferences, 
and committee work that has become so characteristic 
of the American school in recent years. A council can be 
no substitute for a staff meeting where all members of 
the professional staff of a school engage in the serious 
study of professional problems. By the same token a 
teachers' council in a public-school system dominated 
by the administration cannot serve its rightful purpose. 
The administrator should have the right of coming before 
the council. But if the council is to serve as a medium 
for the expression of teacher opinion, membership should 
be restricted to teachers and other members of the 
professional staff who do not exercise the chief adminis- 
trative authority. 

All questions of educational policy, whether pertaining 
to curriculums and teaching, organization and adminis- 
tration, buildings and equipment, special services, per- 
sonnel or public relations should be the concern of 
teachers. The primary responsibility in many instances 
will, of course, rest with the administrator, but definite 

[ 145 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

provision should be made for consultation and advice. 
It is essential that teachers have the opportunity to 
examine and criticize recommendations for major changes 
in policies before these recommendations are finally 
transmitted to the board of education or to the com- 
munity. Nor is there any reason why representatives 
of the teachers should not serve in an advisory capacity 
in making major administrative appointments. Such 
consultation is highly essential both in school systems 
and in colleges and universities and should be regularized. 

It should be noted in closing this discussion that it is 
not contended that teachers have an inherent right to 
participate in the administration of the school. Teachers 
have no such inherent right. Teachers and administra- 
tors are all public servants, and the ultimate control 
should and does rest with the public. It is contended 
rather that teacher participation is essential to the kind 
of school that democracy requires and, therefore, is in 
the public interest. The public should insist that the 
schools embody in all their practices the purposes and 
methods of democracy. In harmony with this point of 
view, the thesis that the teaching profession should be 
accorded a much larger share in the direction of educa- 
tion is being defended in these pages. 

Voluntary teachers' organizations, which will be con- 
sidered in a later chapter, have an important and essen- 
tial contribution to make in the development of policy 
both within the schools and in the community. It is of 
fundamental importance that the teacher be free to 
affiliate with professional organizations of his own 

The Function of Administration 

The function of administration, then, is vital and 
essential and makes definite requirements with respect 

[ 146 ] 

Control and Administration 

to specialized preparation and personality. Proficiency 
with respect to matters so complex and often so technical 
comes only with experience. The extreme forms of democ- 
racy in educational administration advocated in many 
quarters today will make for inefficiency and in the end 
degenerate into anarchy or, worse, into political log- 
rolling. The town meeting is no solution for this problem. 
The argument for democracy in administration is not an 
argument against the responsible executive. The latter 
is essential to the efficient operation of our system of 
public education. In an enterprise of such magnitude and 
complexity there must be a division of labor. An extensive 
and somewhat specialized preparation is required. The 
proficiency that comes with years of study and experi- 
ence should not be discarded. Rotation in office will at 
most levels probably prove undesirable, as would the 
filling of responsible administrative posts by popular 
election by teachers. The interest of the community 
requires that nominations for these posts be made by 
administrators and confirmed by the board of education. 
The function of teachers should be an advisory one with 
regard to these appointments. 

The function and position of the educational admin- 
istrator is not comparable to that of the employer or the 
boss in industry. Attempts to draw such a line are per- 
nicious. The administrator does not own the school. Like 
the teacher, he is a professional worker and a public 
servant. The administrator is as much a teacher as is the 
teacher. It cannot be denied that power turns the head 
of some individuals. There is truth in the famous saying 
of Lord Acton: "All power corrupts. Absolute power 
corrupts absolutely/' Provision should, therefore, be 
made for removal of the administrator from administra- 
tive responsibilities and reassignment to teaching if he 
becomes inefficient or autocratic and high-handed in his 

[ 147] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

methods. It is generally believed that administrators 
tend to become conservative, even reactionary, in their 
educational and social views. There is much evidence to 
support this belief, but there are many exceptions to the 
rule. There is nothing inherent in the work of adminis- 
tration, carried on in accordance with the philosophy 
outlined here, that need make the administrator a reac- 
tionary, and many administrators are far more progres- 
sive than are the teachers with whom they work. 

Both teachers and administrators are today products 
of a conception of administration in many respects un- 
democratic. Almost impossible burdens are today placed 
by this old system on administrators. Superintendents, 
principals, deans, college and university presidents are 
forced to carry an utterly unreasonable load of respon- 
sibility. During the depression years many have broken 
under the strain. These burdens and strains can be 
lightened only by a more democratic and cooperative 
type of administration. A more cooperative type of 
administration, which will strengthen the hands of both 
teachers and administrators, is, at the same time, essen- 
tial to democracy. 

Administration and Democracy 

The history of the last two decades has emphasized 
the critical nature of the problem of administration in a 
democracy, and educational administration is only a 
part of this larger problem. At many points administra- 
tion has broken down in the democracies. Unless this 
problem can be solved, democracy will beyond question 
give way to some form of autocracy. The theoretical and 
practical problems of making administration efficient 
and forceful but at the same time sensitive to the public 
interest are enormous. Reactionary interests find it pos- 
sible to block necessary measures in legislative halls and 

[ 148] 

Control and Administration 

thus cripple the government and render it impotent 
before its responsibilities. When the President sought to 
reorganize the executive departments of the Federal 
government in the interests of efficiency, the cry of dic- 
tatorship was raised against him by special interests and 
demagogues. But when democratic government is unable 
to act, we shall be threatened with actual autocracy. 
There is no reason to suppose that these problems are 
incapable of solution. They must be solved if democracy 
is to endure. This problem is one aspect of the political 
crisis that democracy faces. Already graduate schools 
for the professional education of public administrators 
are being established. One of the greatest needs of Ameri- 
can municipal, state, and Federal government is a genuine 
civil service headed by professionally trained adminis- 
trators. This, of course, does not apply to such direct 
representatives of the people as cabinet members and the 
principal executives of municipal and state governments. 
One of the most hopeful signs of the times has been the 
steady improvement in educational administration that 
has been placed on a thoroughly professional basis in 
most communities in the last generation and is gradually 
becoming more truly efficient and democratic. The 
teacher has a much better status both in the school and 
in the community than ever before. But reconstruction of 
the administration of American education has only begun. 
A great creative task remains to be accomplished. 

[ 149 ] 



EQUALITY is a basic ideal of democracy. It is also, as 
we have seen, one of the conditions of the very 
existence of democracy. The division of men into privi- 
leged and underprivileged orders on the basis of social, 
cultural, or economic advantages is the antithesis of 
democracy. Equality may exist in political form, but 
where the disparities between individuals or classes are 
great or long-continued political institutions will become 
subservient to the class that wields the most power and 
enjoys the greatest prestige. It is for this reason that the 
glaring disparities in the economic conditions of the 
people that have developed even in this country in the last 
fifty years constitute so serious a threat to all our ideals 
and aspirations for the general welfare. 

Social and economic equality do not mean identity 
with respect to either native endowment or contribution 
to the social welfare. Men obviously differ in their 
physical and intellectual powers. The ideal of equality 
has been interpreted in the United States as meaning 
equality before the law, equality of political rights, and 
equality of opportunity. Americans have a deep-seated 
antipathy to conceptions of superiority, to the develop- 
ment of social class distinctions, whether hereditary, as in 
older societies, or due to wide differences in economic 
status. A man's worth and his welfare should depend not 

[ 150 ] 

Equality of Opportunity 

on family, not on the enjoyment of economic advantage, 
but on what he is and on his contribution to the common 
good. Economic well-being and security for the individual 
and for the family are the foundations of effective equality. 

Equality of Educational Opportunity 

The greatest achievements in providing equality of 
opportunity in the United States have, beyond question, 
been in the field of public education. In no sphere of 
activity have we come so close to realizing this ideal. 
Viewed from one angle, the educational opportunities 
provided in this country today exceed the fondest hopes 
of the educational pioneers of a century ago who believed 
so deeply in popular education and the establishment of 
free schools open on equal terms to all. These pioneers 
naturally thought in terms of the common school of their 
day. It was what we now call elementary education that 
they sought to make free and even compulsory, but they 
believed, too, that the state should support secondary 
schools and institutions of higher learning for those who 
would and could profit by them. 

Equality of educational opportunity demanded, then, 
the establishment of a school free of tuition open to every 
child. Within the brief space of a century that ideal has 
been reached not only for elementary education but for 
secondary education. Tuition-free schools are available 
at these levels to all youth, though problems of transpor- 
tation and living away from home are involved for some 
youth in attendance on free high schools and though only 
inferior schools are today available to many. Moreover, 
most of the states now maintain colleges, universities, and 
technical and professional schools open to youth on the 
payment of fees that are either relatively small or less 
than the fees charged by the best privately supported 
colleges and universities. The development of this system 

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Education for Democracy in Our Time 

of education may well be considered the most notable 
contribution of this country to democracy, and certainly 
belief in the desirability and social efficacy of education is 
one of the salient characteristics of Americans. This 
system is one of the strongest safeguards of democracy, 
or will be if it is really made free in every sense of the 
word intellectually free, with its opportunities and 
privileges actually brought within reach of every indi- 
vidual capable of taking advantage of them. 

For, contrary to the belief of most Americans, education 
is not yet free to all in this country. In some states the 
individual or his family must still supply the books 
and other materials essential to the educative process. 
Not only are tuition fees a requisite for attendance in 
publicly supported colleges and universities ; many youth 
are unable to continue their education for lack of eco- 
nomic resources. How can a family on relief work, with an 
income of fifty dollars a month or less, clothe its children 
and provide the other essentials of high-school attend- 
ance? That it is apparently managed somehow by so 
many seems almost unbelievable. The facts are, as shown 
by many studies, that hundreds of thousands of youth 
quit high school every year for lack of economic resources. 
The cost to these youth in health, in cultural oppor- 
tunities available to others of their age, in morale, and 
the loss to the community are, of course, terrific. Even 
more serious is the fact that every year hundreds of 
thousands, perhaps a million or more youth, whose 
abilities fit them for education at the college or university 
level, are denied this opportunity largely for lack of 
financial resources. They have not the funds for fees, for 
the purchase of books and supplies, and for the expenses 
of living. From such studies as are available I am con- 
vinced that in some states more able youth are thus 
prevented from entering college than are today attending 

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Equality of Opportunity 

college. Lack of resources to continue their education 
beyond high school is the dilemma that confronts millions 
of American youth. The assistance now fortunately 
extended to many on a work basis by the Federal govern- 
ment through the National Youth Administration is 
utterly inadequate to cope with this situation. Worse, 
many of these youth are unable to find employment on 
leaving high school. 

The social waste, with its attendant injustice and 
inequality, inherent in this state of affairs, is enormous 
and most dangerous. The country is denied the services 
that millions of its best minds could render to society. 
Shall the economic status of one's fami y determine 
whether he is to have the educational advantages for 
which he is eminently fitted? Shall one youth be denied 
a college education or be compelled to work his way 
through college, often by long, enervating, and ill-remun- 
erated labor, perhaps incurring handicapping debts and 
physical and emotional disabilities in the meantime, while 
others less able have ample means for attendance on the 
best and socially most favored colleges and universities? 
Such inequality and injustice should no longer be tol- 
erated in America. 

So long as present economic conditions continue, the 
only way in which equality of educational opportunities 
can be provided is through maintenance grants to youth 
whose families lack the financial resources to support 
them in school and college. Merely to provide tuition-free 
schools is not to provide free education in a society in 
which, according to the Brookings Institution study of 
America's Capacity to Produce, even in 1929 approxi- 
mately 70 per cent of the families of the country had 
incomes of less than $2,500, and 21 per cent had incomes 
of less than $1,000. According to a recent study by the 
National Resources Committee, 42 per cent of American 

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Education for Democracy in Our Time 

families in 1935-1936 had incomes of less than $1,000, 
and 14 per cent had incomes of less than $500! Subsistence 
grants offer for the present the only solution of the 
problems under consideration, though such a solution 
could be regarded as only temporary. An adequate 
permanent solution can come only through release of the 
productive powers of the country and a more equitable 
distribution of the national income. Genuine equality of 
educational opportunity can be realized only through 
some such reconstruction of our economy as has been 
considered in preceding chapters. 

It is obvious, too, that schools and colleges, both public 
and private, differ widely in quality. These differences 
are most often due to lack of financial resources. Even 
by the greatest of sacrifices the state of North Dakota, 
unaided, cannot provide support for its university com- 
parable to that provided for the Universities of Michigan 
or California. Many of the states of the union simply have 
not the resources to provide adequate schools for their 

The provision of educational opportunity is, then, 
today first of all a problem of adequate financing of 
schools and higher institutions of learning and, tem- 
porarily, of economic assistance to children and youth of 
underprivileged families. The foundations of an excellent 
system of public schools extending from the kindergarten 
to the university have been laid. This system is not 
adequate today, but, with resources, could in a reasonable 
length of time be made adequate. How is the problem of 
economic support to be solved? 

The Expanding School Community 

The support of education can no longer remain solely 
a local concern if an adequate system of schools is to be 
provided. This is true for two reasons. 


Equality of Opportunity 

The first reason is one of broad social and political 
policy. The differences in the social conditions and out- 
look and economic resources of communities are very 
great. Some value education much more highly than 
others and are disposed to make much greater sacrifices. 
In general, urban communities have been more sensitive 
to the social values of education than have rural com- 
munities, and this despite all the sentimentality that has 
clustered around the " little red schoolhouse." Cultural 
or social background, traditions and leadership count for 
much. The system of local control and local support has 
probably produced at once the best and the poorest 
schools to be found in any nation of comparable cultural 
advancement. The good of this system, essential to 
democracy as we have seen, should be retained. But its 
weaknesses must be repaired. 

Neither the individual state nor the nation can be 
indifferent to the quality of education or the scope of the 
educational opportunities provided in the local com- 
munities. A chain is never stronger than its weakest 
link. In a population as mobile as that of this country, the 
quality of education provided in each community be- 
comes the concern not only of the nation but of every 
other state and community. The population of great 
urban and industrial centers has been drawn largely from 
farm, village, and town. Millions have in the last twenty- 
five years migrated to great urban centers, particularly 
to the great industrial centers of the North. The most 
backward rural regions have supplied a major portion of 
these migrants. They take with them their social atti- 
tudes and habits, their many good qualities along with 
their deficiencies, which are deficiencies in education. 

The second reason is inherent in the economic changes 
that have come about since the establishment of our free 
schools. These changes have already been discussed, but 

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Education for Democracy in Our Time 

again I must call attention to the mobility of the popula- 
tion, the concentration of wealth in certain states and 
urban centers and the disparity in the economic ability 
of the states to support education. So far as financial 
support is concerned, the school district can no longer be 
confined to the local community. 

The Need for State and Federal Aid 

Because of the disparity in the abilities of localities 
and states to support education, both the state and the 
nation must participate in the financial support of schools 
in the future. An added compelling reason is found in the 
greater convenience of levying the most equitable taxes, 
such as the income tax, on a state and national basis. 
Education has been traditionally dependent on the 
personal-property tax. The injustice and inequalities 
inherent in this system were brought out in 1938 in 
the report of the President's Advisory Committee on 

Frequently real estate values in school districts are entirely 
out of proportion to the number of children. The larger the 
number of districts in a given area and the smaller their average 
size, the less likely is there to be any reasonable relationship 
between wealth and children. In Iowa, for example, the most 
prosperous district has been estimated to have 275 times the 
wealth per child of the poorest district. In a number of states, 
the most able units could provide $100 or more per child for 
every $1 provided by the least able units. 1 

Similar inequalities have obtained in every state. In 
Illinois, for example, the property evaluation per child 
ranges from $880 to $4,373; in the poorest district in a 

1 Report of the Advisory Committee on Education. United States 
Government Printing Office, 1938. (Italics mine, J. H. N.) 


Equality of Opportunity 

Nebraska county the valuation per child was $2,632; in 
the richest it was $213,135. 1 

Such inequalities are, of course, intolerable and call 
for a reorganization and enlargement of small adminis- 
trative units and for state aid. A number of states have 
taken definite steps to equalize the opportunities and 
burdens of education between local districts. Notable 
among these are New York, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and 
California. In the early history of the republic, the 
Federal government turned over to states certain public 
lands for the support of education in perpetuity. In this 
fashion many states acquired permanent school funds, 
the income from which is distributed to the localities. 
But, with a few exceptions in certain of the sparsely 
settled western states in which valuable forests or rich 
mineral deposits were found on these lands, the income 
from this source is meager in comparison with needs. 
Unfortunately, these funds were, in many instances, 
wasted through mismanagement or downright corrup- 
tion. It is important to note, however, that the principles 
of state and Federal aid to education go back to the 
beginning of our national existence. 

The traditional method of distributing state aid was 
on the basis of the number of children of school age, but 
the principles of need and of equalization of opportunity 
are the primary considerations in such legislation today. 
Under the best laws, such as the New York State law, a 
school that meets a minimum standard is guaranteed for 
every community. Beyond this minimum, distribution is 
is accordance with such measures as average daily attend- 
ance. Under this plan New York State has distributed 
over one hundred million dollars annually to local school 
districts. Some states have as yet taken no steps in this 

1 Frank W. Cyr and others, Paying for Our Public Schools, International 
Textbook Company, 1938. 

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Education for Democracy in Our Time 

direction. In most states the provisions are thoroughly 
inadequate. This situation constitutes a menace to the 
public welfare and a challenge to educational leadership. 
However, the possibility of using the instrumentality of 
state support to cut costs below the level of the most 
pressing needs is illustrated by the recent history of 
North Carolina. Under pressure from great corporate 
interests a program of state support was coupled with 
legislation limiting the rights of local districts to tax 
themselves. The laws were designed to make it difficult 
for the local community to increase the tax rate for 
schools, even by popular vote, and the amount provided 
by the state was utterly inadequate. The only protection 
against such disaster is an informed public opinion. 

Extensive and reliable studies show that conserva- 
tively the most favored states are six times as able to 
support education as the least able states. The President's 
Advisory Committee found that 

. . . about 20 per cent of the children of school age in the 
United States live in states where with no more than average 
effort more than $75 per child could be provided for education, 
while another 20 per cent live in states where not more than 
$25 per child could be provided without more than average 
effort. An expenditure of $50 per child would be deemed low 
in comparison with typical urban standards of any region, 
yet more than 60 per cent of the children live in states that 
on a state-wide basis could not provide $50 per child for 
public schools without more than average effort. 1 

The disparities in the expenditures of the various states 
on education are startling. New York State expended 
about $134 per person attending the public schools in 
1935-1936, and Nevada, about $128; Mississippi ex- 
pended $24.55, and Arkansas, $27.60 per child. The states 

1 Advisory Committee on Education, op. cit. 

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Equality of Opportunity 

with the largest number of children to educate in pro- 
portion to the total population have the least resources 
with which to provide education. Under our economic 
system these less favored states contribute to the eco- 
nomic welfare of those states in which the title of 
most of our wealth is held, where the home offices of 
the large insurance companies and the great corporations 
that handle the products of these states are located. 

There is only one solution to the problem which this 
situation creates Federal aid to education. Since the 
Civil War, the Federal government has assisted the 
states through grants in aid for technical education in 
agriculture and the mechanical arts and for vocational 
education. More recently, under the relief program, 
funds have been provided for capital outlays and also 
for the maintenance of certain types of instruction in 
depressed areas and for student aid. The time has 
now come when the Federal government must contribute 
generously to the support of general education or many 
states will be utterly unable to meet the responsibility 
that education for democracy lays upon them. 

How much of the total budget for education should 
be supplied by the Federal government, how much by 
the states, how much by local districts? It is obviously 
not possible to arrive at a strictly scientific answer 
to this question because of the fact that a great many 
problems of policy are involved, but on the basis of 
available data it should be possible to come to some 
defensible conclusions. The President's Advisory Com- 
mittee recommended in 1938 that Congress make a 
beginning by appropriating a sum of $72,000,000 for 
all purposes for the first year, to rise to a total of approxi- 
mately $200,000,000 for the sixth year. This is obviously 
an inadequate proportion of a school budget that now 
totals well over two billion dollars and that must be 

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Education for Democracy in Our Time 

greatly increased to provide for the educational needs 
of the country. Measured against needs, such an appro- 
priation would be little more than a pittance. Not all 
of American youth are in high school. Hundreds of 
thousands from low-income families are denied education 
beyond high school. An adequate educational program 
would require for all its varied services at least a half 
million professional workers in addition to the present 
staff of a million teachers. Most teachers are miserably 
underpaid. Provision for nursery schools, junior colleges, 
continuation education, and adult education should be 
greatly extended. Adequate provision should be made 
for the education of the physically, mentally, and 
socially handicapped. Most schools are without adequate 
health services and psychological clinics and other services 
essential to education today. Recreational facilities, 
including city playgrounds and camps in the country, 
should be made available to all children. Subsistence 
grants must be made available to many if equality of 
educational opportunity is to be provided if youth 
are not to be denied their American birthright. 

To accomplish this would, in all likelihood, require 
an ultimate annual outlay for current expenses of at 
least four billions instead of two billions of dollars, as 
at the present time. I venture to propose that roughly 
one-half of this amount should be supplied by the 
Federal government, one-fourth by the states, and one- 
fourth by the local communities. This proposal would 
call for a Federal expenditure of about two billion dollars. 
This may seem fantastic to some, but not when the actual 
needs are faced and not when viewed in the perspective 
of the growth in educational expenditures in the last 
seventy-five years or in comparison with expenditures 
for other services. Nor is it a fantastic expenditure when 
measured against our vast resources and ability to 

[ 160 ] 

Equality of Opportunity 

produce wealth. As a first step at least a billion dollars 
should be added to the expenditures for education in 
the next five years. And most of this increase should 
be supplied by the Federal government. If education is 
a national need and a national problem, and it is, why 
should not the national government assume the major 
portion of the burden? This seems reasonable, especially 
when it is considered that the Federal government 
commands today the most lucrative forms and sources 
of taxation and that only the Federal government can 
tap certain sources of revenue. The Federal govern- 
ment is the only tax authority that cannot, in some way, 
be evaded. The Federal government is spending, in the 
current budget for roads, armed forces, and relief nearly 
four billion dollars. 

All these are necessary services. But none is more 
fundamental than education. In this connection it should 
be emphasized that an increase of one or two billions 
in the nation's expenditures on education would be a 
sound economic measure, an addition to family incomes 
that would mean increased buying power and an in- 
creased demand for consumers' goods, to say nothing of 
all the cultural benefits that will flow from an adequate 
program of education. 

Federal Support without Federal Control 

These proposals for increased Federal support for 
education bring us back to the question of control. 
It is true that the power that controls the purse strings 
can control policy. In the end, this may be inevitable 
in the case of education. Greatly increased Federal 
support is so essential that it is both imperative and 
inevitable. Twenty years ago when the National Educa- 
tion Association began to advocate a program of Federal 
aid for education, this proposal met with determined 

[ 161 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

opposition, especially among business interests and certain 
religious groups, on the ground that it would needlessly 
increase educational expenditures, that education was 
reserved to the states, and that Federal control would go 
with Federal support. Some members of the educational 
profession were apprehensive because of their experience 
with Federal aid for vocational education under the 
Smith-Hughes Law. In this instance the law provided 
for a very undesirable type of detailed control by the 
Federal board for vocational education. Today the 
need for Federal aid has become so desperate as to bring 
about a change in sentiment. Elements formerly op- 
posed have joined in support of the recommendation 
made by the President's Advisory Committee. But 
another issue was raised by this report that proposed 
that a part of the funds be made available, at the dis- 
cretion of the states, for the support of private and 
parochial schools. Specifically, it was proposed that a 
part of these funds might, at the discretion of the states, 
be employed to provide transportation to parochial and 
private schools, to provide certain health services, to 
buy books, and to provide scholarships for students 
attending these schools. As part of the scholarship aid 
would certainly be used for the payment of tuition, 
Federal funds would thus be employed in meeting the 
operational expenses of such schools. The issues are 
somewhat complex and to many are confusing. 

Let us first consider the question of whether Federal 
control necessarily goes with Federal support. If it 
does, then the question is whether the people can control 
the operations of the Federal government in the field 
of education in the interest of democracy. The answer 
to that question is twofold. In the first place, if the 
people cannot control the Federal government in all 
its operations, then the game is up for democracy in 

[ 162] 

Equality of Opportunity 

this country. If control is inevitably associated with 
financial support, then that issue has got to be faced. 
In that event it is pertinent to note that the experience 
of other democracies, notably of France and the British 
dominions, would indicate that centralized national 
and provincial control is not, of necessity, inconsistent 
with the principle of democracy. 

But the objections to Federal control in the United 
States are compelling. Such a policy would run counter 
to American tradition and to long-established policy 
under which our system of education has been developed. 
The people are deeply interested in education, and local 
control stimulates and gives free play to this interest. 
Of much greater importance in these troubled times is 
the undoubted fact that local control is more favorable 
to freedom of teaching. Under local control those states 
and districts that desire freedom can maintain it. 
Education under local control will be difficult to regi- 
ment. If control of the curriculum and teaching were 
lodged in Washington, regimentation would be easier 
in the event that a fascist-minded political party ever 
got control of the government. The actions of totalitarian 
governments should warn us of that danger. Freedom 
will be easier to defend on thousands of local educational 
fronts than on one national front. The fact that if the 
people cannot control the Federal government, all will 
probably be lost anyway is no answer in the field of 
education. In the sort of world we live in today, every 
possible precaution consistent with efficient government 
should be taken to preserve intellectual freedom. We 
should take no unnecessary risks. The Federal govern- 
ment is the only power that can cope with many of our 
basic economic problems, but wherever problems can 
be solved locally, the danger of centralization and of 
bureaucracy should be avoided. 

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Education for Democracy in Our Time 

But need control go with Federal support? There is 
no reason why it should. The fact is that every state 
now has a well-developed, going educational system to 
which Federal funds may be safely entrusted, with only 
such safeguards in the way of accounting as are essential 
to ensure that the funds are expended on education, as 
intended, and that all citizens, regardless of race, color, or 
social condition, share equally in the benefits of these 
funds. The existing school systems are thoroughly com- 
petent to expend these moneys. The cause of education 
will be better served if the states are not hampered by 
Federal prescriptions. Local control is much more favor- 
able to the experimental and progressive spirit that is 
essential to democracy. Every argument strongly sup- 
ports the case for control by the states rather than by the 
Federal government. 

The recommendations of the President's Advisory 
Committee go too far in the earmarking of funds for 
specific purposes. Appropriation for specific purposes 
involves control, for every such specific appropriation 
involves a decision as to need. Every such appropriation 
means the shaping of educational programs in the states 
by the Federal government. The Federal Office of Educa- 
tion can make every essential contribution to leadership 
through research, through the dissemination of informa- 
tion, and through conferences financed at Federal ex- 
pense, without the power to make decisions or enforce 

Federal control need not accompany Federal support 
of education in the United States. 

Public Support Only for Public Schools 

Proposals that state and Federal funds be made avail- 
able for private and parochial schools raise other issues. 

[ 164] 

Equality of Opportunity 

It is a sound principle that the public should control 
the institutions supported by public taxation. Parochial 
and private schools are controlled by only a part of the 
public, that is, by religious bodies or by self-perpetuating 
secular boards of trustees. Once we embark on the policy 
of public support for private and parochial schools, the 
logical outcome will be the development of two systems 
of publicly supported schools, one controlled by the 
public, one not controlled by the public. The advocates 
of parochial schools object to the education of their 
children in public schools because in certain areas of life 
they want to control the ideas to which these children 
are exposed. Public schools are not always intellectually 
free, but the public always has the power to make them 
free. The teachers in public schools can always appeal 
directly to the public to create more favorable condi- 
tions. It is, then, imperative that there should be no 
break with the long-established policy that a democracy 
supports only those educational institutions controlled 
by the entire people. The fact that there have already 
been occasional exceptions to this principle is no valid 
argument against it. The public should consider, too, 
that any other policy will be wasteful. It is bound 
to result eventually in needless duplications of facilities 
at public expense. 

Furthermore, public support for parochial education 
would mean public support for religious education of a 
sectarian nature. This again would violate one of the 
basic principles on which our government was founded, 
the complete separation of church and state. 

Finally, the proposal that Federal appropriations for 
education should be available at the discretion of the 
states for grants in aid of private and parochial schools of 
itself violates the principle that the control of education 

[ 165 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

should be left to the states. The contention that to make 
Federal funds available for this purpose, if the state 
desires so to use them, is consistent with state control is 
entirely misleading. Whenever the Federal government 
makes funds available for parochial and private schools, 
it will be exerting terrific pressure on the states so to use 
these funds and will be placing a powerful weapon in the 
hands of the advocates of this policy within each state. 
The Federal government will have entered definitely into 
the control and direction of education. It will, in effect, 
have changed our historic policy fundamentally. The 
principle that only publicly controlled functions should 
be supported by public funds is as valid for the Federal 
government as for state and local governments. The 
Federal government is the government of the people quite 
as much as are the state governments. These issues 
should be clearly understood. Public support should be 
extended only to publicly controlled schools. Any other 
policy will be fraught with great danger. The experience 
of France and other countries with respect to this prob- 
lem should be a warning to Americans. 

This is not an argument against private and parochial 
schools. The Supreme Court of the United States has 
affirmed the right to maintain private schools. The 
experimental private school, especially, has a genuine 
contribution to make to education, provided it is kept 
thoroughly free intellectually. In parlous times of social 
conflict private education may actually serve the cause of 
freedom. But there is no reason why the public should 
support a system of education that it does not control. 
There is every reason why it should not. 

One System of Public Education 

The insistence of the need for increased Federal par- 
ticipation in the support of education is creating another 

[ 166] 

Equality of Opportunity 

problem of administration and support that requires 
consideration at this point. Particularly during the 
depression years, various Federal agencies have been 
created in the field of education to meet specific needs. 
Typical of these are the Civilian Conservation Corps, 
which has provided work and education for almost a 
million youth annually since its establishment in 1933, 
and the National Youth Administration, which has 
charge of the administration of employment for youth in 
schools and colleges. Usually under the general super- 
vision of the Office of Education the Federal government 
has, during the depression years, also made available 
funds for the erection of school buildings, for the operat- 
ing expenses of schools in certain depressed regions, and 
for the maintenance of adult-education programs in many 
communities. The value of these activities cannot be 
questioned, although the establishment of them again 
raises questions of control. 

If this trend continues in its present form, it is entirely 
possible that within a few years we shall have in this 
country two systems of public education, one controlled 
by the Federal government and the other controlled by 
the states and localities; one controlled from the top 
down and the other more directly by the people in their 
localities. And this is a situation that needs to be watched 
very carefully. These new Federal services and the 
public schools are already ministering in many instances 
to the same individuals and groups. Friction, inefficiency, 
and waste can easily develop. If a Federal system of 
education is allowed to develop, it will tend gradually to 
weaken the existing public schools. This is another risk 
we do not need to take. Federal support for these services 
is essential, but their control and administration, with 
the possible exception of some aspects of the work of the 
Civilian Conservation Corps, should be lodged with the 

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Education for Democracy in Our Time 

state and local schools. We do not need two systems of 
public education in the United States. 

Control and Support Critical Factors 

The conclusion of the argument of these two chapters 
is, then, that organization, control, administration, and 
support are among the most critical factors in the devel- 
opment of an effective program of social education at the 
present time. Antiquated, uninformed, or inappropriate 
methods of administration will always hamper and defeat 
education. Boards of education and boards of trustees 
of colleges and universities should be composed of men 
and women who not only are not afraid of social change 
but see in education an instrumentality for making 
change intelligent. Equality of educational opportunity 
has not yet been realized, and the schools of the country 
arc by no means adequately financed. Today education 
must compete for funds with new social services, such as 
old-age pensions and other forms of social security and 
relief. The problem of financial support is fundamentally 
the problem of releasing the productive forces of the 
country. The basic question is not what proportion of a 
national income of sixty billion dollars should go to 
education. Education cannot be adequately supported on 
so low a national income. Adequate support can be 
provided only when the national income has been in- 
creased to the hundred and twenty or hundred and fifty 
billions of dollars that our resources and technology have 
now brought within our reach. But economic reconstruc- 
tion is in large measure a problem of education. Educa- 
tion is at every point, therefore, inextricably intertwined 
with our economic, social, political life. Adequate support 
not only involves problems of taxation and of the distri- 
bution of the national income but is dependent upon 
increasing the national income. 

[ 168] 

Equality of Opportunity 

Again, equal educational opportunity is not and cannot 
be entirely a function of the school but is also a function 
of the economic and cultural level of the country, of 
the environment in which children live. The brilliant 
work of Professor George Stoddard and his associates 
in the Child Welfare Research Station of the University 
of Iowa has shown beyond a question of doubt that the 
intelligence of the child is conditioned by his home, 
neighborhood, and school environment. These researches 
have shown that a substantial increase in the intelli- 
gence quotient of young children occurs when they are 
taken from low cultural environment and placed in a 
good environment and a good school and that the intelli- 
gence of children actually declines as their environment 
and educational opportunities are impoverished. 

Robert Lynd, one of the authors of Middletown, 
has pictured vividly the effect of the environment on 
the individual. He says: 

. . . From the moment of birth, the accidents of cultural 
status for instance, whether one is born " north or south 
of the tracks" begin to play up and to play down the poten- 
tialities of each person. As life progresses, culture writes 
cumulating differences recklessly into these individual lives; 
until in adult life two persons of generally similar native 
endowment will differ so widely that one is on relief, reads 
the tabloids, and follows Father Coughlin, and the other is a 
manufacturer, is hostile to expenditures for relief, reads the 
New York Herald Tribune, sends his son to Harvard, and 
votes for Landon. 1 

The danger resident in these inequalities at this critical 
time cannot be exaggerated. Those who are favored 
by existing economic conditions are likely to develop 

1 Robert Lynd, Knowledge for What? Princeton University Press, 1939. 

[ 169 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

mentalities that will be blind to the actualities of social 
conditions and opposed to necessary changes. Those 
who are denied opportunity may well become the 
recruits of some American Hitler. 

Education will be crippled and socially ineffective 
to the extent that these conditions continue. 

[ 170 ] 



E critical and indispensable purposes that popular 
-L education serves have made the teaching profession 
one of the most important functional groups in the 
modern world. Each of the million teachers of this 
country is at once a teacher and a citizen, and his civic 
importance and responsibilities derive in considerable 
measure from the fact that he is a teacher. 

The teacher's responsibilities have two distinguishable 
though related aspects. His work as a teacher in school, 
university, or adult forums should conform to the 
severest canons of his craft, for education is education 
and not mere conditioning or propaganda. Teaching 
must at all times conform to the democratic conception 
that the human mind must be intelligent to achieve 
freedom and must be free to achieve intelligence. To 
be efficient, teaching must employ all methods and 
techniques that have been validated by careful research 
and experimentation carried out in a frame of the 
most searching study of the problems, purposes, and 
processes of education for a free society. 

The teacher has at the same time civic responsibilities 
that are inherent in the very nature of this educa- 
tional undertaking. Schools must be staffed, housed, and 

[ 171 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

financed. The curriculum and methods of teaching must 
be planned. The public welfare is vitally affected by 
these processes at every step and in their every aspect. 
Upon teachers more than upon any other group of 
necessity rests the obligation of informing the larger 
public as to educational needs and of collaborating with 
the public in its educational program. This leadership 
in the development of educational policy likewise 
involves participation by teachers in the development 
of the basic social, economic, and political policies of the 

The Civic Responsibilities of Teachers 

That the general public looks increasingly to the 
educational profession for counsel and leadership in the 
formulation of educational policies is inherent not only 
in the nature and magnitude of the educational enter- 
prise but in the nature and dynamics of contemporary 
American society. It is desirable that public policy 
always represent shared decisions worked out in a 
spirit of reasonableness with only the general welfare 
in mind, but the fact is that policy eventuates from the 
clash of interest groups. A primary purpose of popular 
education is the development of a social and political 
intelligence among the people that will lift political 
discussion to a higher level and thus contribute to the 
improvement of the processes of democracy, but this 
very purpose makes education itself, particularly in a 
time of strain and uncertainty, a controversial subject. 
A school that attempts a critical examination of condi- 
tions and of the assumptions that underlie the status 
quo will always encounter resistance from some quarter 
in our society. 

It is not necessary again to marshal in detail the 
evidence in support of this contention. The supporting 

[ 172] 

A Social Program for the Teaching Profession 

facts are obvious. The public is intensely concerned 
about education. Educational measures are warmly 
debated in every session of every legislature, and are 
arousing greater interest in the halls of Congress every 
year. Every capital has its educational lobby, and, a 
matter that is generally overlooked, its antieducational 
lobbies as well. The antieducational lobbies, always 
protesting their loyalty to education, consistently oppose 
increases in expenditures for schools and have succeeded 
in placing on the statute books in the last generation 
much legislation designed to regulate teaching. In 
many communities political machines have, from time 
to time, managed to control the schools and to use them 
for patronage and other purposes. In most communities 
the schools are kept well out of the hands of " politicians M 
and special interests, but, as the history of many com- 
munities, large and small, shows, this has been done 
only at the price of constant vigilance and often only 
through the best of organization and leadership. Always 
it is the teachers who must take the initiative in protect- 
ing the public's interest in education. 

Those who think that teachers can keep out of civic 
affairs or politics and perform their educational function 
labor under an illusion. Not only are educational policies 
themselves social and political in their nature but the 
process of education is profoundly affected by economic 
and social conditions. Education docs not proceed 
effectively in a slum district with its bad social environ- 
ment and bad housing, nor is an empty stomach or a 
sick body conducive to the educative process. The 
economic and political causes of such conditions and their 
removal are, therefore, in a peculiar sense problems for 
teachers, however much they may be the problems of 
other civic groups and of all citizens. In the complexities 
of contemporary society no other group is likely to take 

[ 173 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

the lead in matters educational, unless its aim be to 
defeat the true purposes of education. Teachers have, 
then, collective social responsibilities that are inherent 
in the fact that they are charged with the important 
function of education. 

Teachers are, moreover, citizens, and as citizens have 
the right and obligations to participate actively in 
political life. As a citizen, the teacher must be free to 
associate himself with the political party of his own 
choice, to vote his convictions, and, subject to the 
proper demands of his profession, become, if he so 
desires, an active advocate of the political measures 
that he favors. To deny him this right would be to deprive 
him of the rights of citizenship. Many of these obligations 
he can effectively discharge only in cooperation with 
his fellow teachers. 

To say that teachers must take the initiative in 
the development of educational policies does not mean 
that the larger public, which includes teachers, can or 
should delegate the control of education entirely to 
the teaching profession. Teachers should assume educa- 
tional leadership because they are most competent to do 
so and also because no other group in society is likely 
to assume this responsibility unless perchance teachers 
become so completely the tools of special interests or 
so utterly complacent that the public must drastically 
intervene. Without the active leadership of the profes- 
sion, education will be neglected, and the school will 
surely become a tool of reaction. 

At the same time, teachers, as citizens and as teachers, 
cannot avoid participation in shaping the larger social 
policies of community, state, and nation. The quaint 
notion that a banker, a manufacturer, a lawyer, a labor 
leader, or a farmer is more entitled than a teacher to 
voice his opinion on economic and political matters is a 

[ 174] 

A Social Program for the Teaching Profession 

part of the mythology that has come down to us from the 
past. This notion would seem amusing were the conse- 
quences of it not so serious and so dangerous. The truth 
of the matter is that organized bankers, industrialists, 
lawyers, labor, and farmers are battling for their own 
interests. These interests may or may not be identical 
with the public interest. Where they are not identical 
with the interests of all, they should be opposed by all 
citizens devoted to democracy, including teachers. In 
any event it is the responsibility of the teachers to speak 
for the interests of education. It is legitimate and desir- 
able that teachers should be concerned with their own 
special interests, with matters of salary, tenure and retire- 
ment provisions, and proper conditions of work, but only 
where these are also the interests of education and thus 
of the public. We often hear it said that teachers should 
be disinterested. There is considerable truth in this 
dictum, for teachers can serve the cause of education 
only as they place the general welfare above their own 
private interests. The public interest, particularly as it 
affects and is affected by education, is their interest. And 
for that matter the profession has so abundantly demon- 
strated its loyalty to the best interests of society as to 
make the prescription of loyalty oaths one of the 
absurdities of our period. 

The Necessity for Organization 

The teaching profession can discharge its collective 
social functions only through organization. It is an inter- 
esting and significant fact that the first teachers' organ- 
izations were formed in this country when the battle 
for free schools was being fought out and the foundations 
of public education were being laid. These early organi- 
zations, in cooperation with lay groups, did much to win 

[ 175] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

public approval for the principle of free schools. A 
number of state teachers' associations and the National 
Education Association were organized prior to the Civil 
War. After the war came the rapid expansion of public 
education that has continued to the present time and 
likewise a rapid growth and development of teachers' 

The educational, personnel, financial, and administra- 
tive problems connected with this expanding system of 
schools were enormous. Educational leaders found essen- 
tial some medium for conference and the exchange of 
ideas and information relative to problems of curriculum, 
method, organization, and administration. The reports of 
some of the committees of the national societies in the 
latter years of the century did much to give American 
education its form and content. But the membership of 
these organizations was small until well into this century. 
The rank and file of teachers was not involved. The 
membership of the N.E.A. was only ten thousand at the 
time of the establishment of its headquarters in Wash- 
ington in 1919 and its reorganization and democratiza- 
tion a year later. 

With the turn of the century, as the problems of educa- 
tion became more complex and insistent, educational 
associations began to enlarge their interests and to 
assume a new importance. Local associations began to 
interest themselves with such matters as salaries, tenure, 
and pensions. State associations, finding it necessary to 
concern themselves w r ith educational legislation, grew 
rapidly in membership and influence. In a number of 
states full-time secretaries were employed and per- 
manent headquarters established. These organizations 
had reached a high state of development before the 
beginning of the World War. The American Federation 
of Teachers was organized and affiliated with the Ameri- 


A Social Program for the Teaching Profession 

can Federation of Labor in 1916. This was the first 
teachers' organization with a well-defined social orienta- 
tion. The Progressive Education Association was estab- 
lished in 1918 and may be considered the first national 
association with a particular and well-defined educational 
orientation. Various societies had also been formed in 
fields of specialization and in the field of higher education, 
but the purpose of the present discussion will be best 
served if attention is centered on those comprehensive 
state and national associations concerned primarily with 
the problems of the schools. The array of organizations 
in locality, state, and nation is now almost bewildering. 
More and more the organized profession has been 
drawn into the consideration of problems having far- 
reaching social and political implications. In 1919 the 
National Education Association adopted the report of its 
Committee on the Emergency in Education advocating 
Federal aid for education, without Federal control, and 
the creation of a Federal department of education with a 
secretary in the President's Cabinet. The campaign for 
Federal aid has been prosecuted vigorously since that 
time. Teachers' organizations have likewise worked for 
programs of state support for education, for more ade- 
quate salaries, tenure and retirement provisions, and for 
many other educational measures. They have resisted 
the enactment of legislation for the control of the cur- 
riculum and the prescription of teachers' loyalty oaths, 
sometimes vigorously, sometimes listlessly, often depend- 
ing, it would seem, on the immediate importance of other 
educational legislation pending at the time. On the whole, 
however, these societies have stood firmly for the prin- 
ciple of freedom of teaching. Today "the educational 
lobbies" are under attack. As the economic and political 
crisis has deepened, the tension caused by this crisis has 
been reflected in all educational associations concerned 

[ 177 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

with problems of policy and with financial support or 
with the social aspects of the curriculum. 

Functions of Teachers' Organizations 

The organized profession is now faced with the ques- 
tion of the relation of education and of the educational 
profession to the process of economic and social recon- 
struction. The profession has now come to a fork in the 
road. Until recent years the soundness of our economic 
system had not been seriously questioned. Now the very 
foundations of our economy are being questioned by a 
large and growing number of citizens. Important political 
groups are now advocating that the economy be brought 
under more effective social control. The battle is on 
between the supporters of laissez faire and the advocates 
of a democratic collectivism such as has been described in 
earlier chapters. In the meantime, an advancing tech- 
nology and long-continued depression have created acute 
problems of unemployment and of relief. Education must 
now compete with relief and social security for public 
support. The teaching profession cannot stand by in the 
position of a neutral observer in this situation. Education 
and teachers are involved at a thousand points. The 
profession must come to a clearer understanding of its 
social responsibilities and functions. 

Already this process has begun. Pressure is being 
exerted in one direction by the American Federation of 
Teachers and to a certain extent by the Progressive 
Education Association. The N.E.A. has created a Com- 
mission on Educational Policies that is studying the 
responsibilities of education and of the profession with 
reference to many social problems. The social problems of 
education is the chief subject of discussion on the pro- 
grams of educational meetings. All important teachers' 
organizations have committees and commissions at work 

[ 178] 

A Social Program for the Teaching Profession 

on various aspects of these problems. Much consideration 
is now being given to the position of teachers in society 
and to their individual and collective social responsi- 
bilities. What are the social functions of teachers' organ- 
izations? If the argument in the preceding pages is 
valid, the broad outlines of these functions seem very 
clear. They fall into six broad categories. 

1. The study of education is an obvious function and 
one that becomes increasingly important as its problems 
become more critical and complex. It is obvious, too, that 
the discharge of this responsibility involves problems of 
public relations, for education cannot be carried on in a 
vacuum. It is incumbent upon the profession to advocate, 
after study, the type of education that will best serve the 
present needs of democracy. The fact that it is impossible 
ever to know with finality the needs of democracy at a 
given time does not relieve the organized profession of 
this responsibility. 

2. That the teaching profession should assume leader- 
ship in the formulation of broad educational policy seems 
fairly clear even to most of the public, for it is now gen- 
erally recognized that education has become in many of 
its aspects a highly technical and professional matter, 
upon which teachers are most competent to advise, 
though the activities of teachers in this direction are often 
bitterly resented in some quarters. 

3. That teachers should participate in the shaping of 
larger social, economic, and political policies is not so 
clear either to the public or to the profession itself. 
But the logic of the situation seems to me perfectly clear. 
Educators cannot be indifferent to the serious economic 
and social maladjustment existing today, to the maldis- 
tribution of the national income, to the forces of depres- 
sion that all but paralyze our productive powers, to 
unemployment, to the waste of our natural resources, 

[ 179 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

to child labor, to housing and health needs, to fascist 
tendencies that, if allowed to develop, will menace the 
very existence of democracy, to the all-too-frequent 
denials of civil liberties, to interference with freedom of 
teaching, to the problems of foreign relations, to the 
danger of war, which places in jeopardy civilization itself. 

The influence of the million teachers must be made to 
count on the side of democracy in the solution of these 
problems. Moreover, every one of these problems is a 
problem that must be studied in the schools. Every 
teachers' organization concerned with policy that side- 
steps these issues in the future will be evading one of its 
major responsibilities. This leaves open for the moment 
the question of how far they should go or how they should 
proceed. But for teachers in their organized capacity 
to keep silent, to do nothing, will be a denial of their 
highest obligations. Already the profession is accepting 
this responsibility, if often timidly. It is resisting the 
forces that would suppress freedom of teaching. It is 
calling the attention of the public to the ways in which 
economic maladjustments affect children and youth, 
and education. It has supported the child-labor amend- 
ment. It has spoken out, though often confusedly, on 
the problems of war and of international relations. 
But most teachers have but inadequate understanding 
of these problems. 

4. A fourth major function of teachers' organizations 
in this critical period is, then, perfectly clear. It is the 
social and political education of the members of the 
profession and of the young people who are coming into 
the profession. 

At this point our educational traditions are in conflict. 
The responsibility of the school for social education has 
long been recognized, and the problems of social educa- 
tion have been and are being widely studied. There 

I 180] 

A Social Program for the Teaching Profession 

is a growing recognition that education is itself a funda- 
mental social process. But it has also been a tradition 
in this country that the schools should preserve a strict 
neutrality in matters political and that teachers should 
keep out of politics. The result is that the great body 
of the profession is not well informed and is confused 
as to its social and political relationships. Education 
is a social process, yes. But the prevailing view has been 
that education should handle controversial issues very 
charily or avoid the hottest ones entirely. The result 
is that education often stops short of being effective. 
And again let me insist that I am talking about educa- 
tion and not propaganda. Let me insist, too, that the 
teacher as a teacher and citizen has political respon- 
sibilities that arise from the fact that he is a teacher. 
It follows that he must be politically informed. The 
political education of teachers in the broadest and best 
sense, but in a very real and practical sense, is, then, 
one of the most important functions of educational 
associations today. 

5. These organizations have definite responsibilities 
in the control and administration of education. A local 
organization of teachers is a proper logical medium for 
the expression to the public of teacher opinion on local 
educational problems, an essential factor in the formula- 
tion of policy whereby schools are administered demo- 
cratically. As I have pointed out earlier, the public 
interest will be well served if greater responsibilities 
are placed upon the profession for the direction of 
education. For teachers to take over entirely the control 
and direction of education would, of course, be as 
undesirable as it would be impossible. 

6. Finally, the protection of freedom of teaching 
not only is a major function of the organized profession 
but is its first civic responsibility. If my analysis of the 

[ 181 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

social scene is valid, the defense of this value in a time 
of social stress will depend on a politically informed 
teaching profession that has won the confidence of the 
public through enlightened cooperation with the con- 
structive social forces in the public. 

Collaboration with the Public 

The thesis that is being defended here is that those 
teachers' organizations that are concerned with broad 
problems of educational policy have acquired a public 
character and inescapable public obligations. This 
applies to local organizations concerned with general 
problems of educational policy, to state teachers' 
organizations, and to such national organizations as 
the National Education Association, the American 
Federation of Teachers, the Progressive Education 
Association, the American Council on Education, the 
Association of University Professors, and to various 
associations of college and university administrators. 
The National Education Association has acquired a 
public character quite as much as has the National 
Chamber of Commerce, the American Federation of 
Labor, or the American Bar Association. 

The. discharge of their obligation necessitates coopera- 
tion by these societies with the public and with other 
organized functional groups. As long as educational 
organizations were only societies for the study of educa- 
tion in its more technical aspects, their public relations 
were relatively of much less importance than now. 
Today, their most difficult problems are problems of 
public policy. 

It is, of course, impossible to draw a sharp line between 
the responsibilities of teachers as members of a school 
staff and as members of professional organizations with 

[ 182] 

A Social Program for the Teaching Profession 

respect to these public relationships. The modern school 
works closely with the home and the community. It 
looks upon the parent-teacher association, for example, 
as an indispensable agency. The parent-teacher associa- 
tion has, in fact, become all but an integral part of the 
school itself, for the very process of education, according 
to the modern concept, is dependent on the closest 
cooperation between the school and the home and other 
community agencies. But many of these relationships 
can be effectively maintained by teachers only in an 
organized capacity. For example, when a group of civic 
organizations in a certain city were trying to select 
citizens for nomination for the school board in a crucial 
school election, they sought the cooperation of the 
teachers. The teachers' organizations afforded a proper 
medium for extending advice and counsel and, later, 
for cooperation in electing the ticket agreed upon. Such 
action, on the part of the teachers, through their own 
organizations, was dignified and in keeping with their 
professional obligations. The superintendent of schools 
was relieved of the embarrassment of personal action. 
The teachers' organizations, in this instance, could 
speak for the interests of the schools more effectively 
than could administrators, even though administrators 
are responsible directly to the community as well as 
to the board and though as citizens the administrators 
have a constitutional right to participate personally 
and directly in these nominations. Such illustrations 
could be multiplied indefinitely. 

The point is that cooperation between teachers' 
organizations and other groups was essential to the 
promotion of the best interests of the schools. Such 
cooperation is even more essential on a state and national 
basis. This brings us to the consideration of how such 
cooperation and collaboration can best be carried on. 

[ 183 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

The Problem of Method 

The method of collaboration with the public must be 
consistent with the purposes of education in a democracy. 

Up to a certain point this collaboration offers no 
particular difficulty. Most citizens believe in public 
education, though there are wide differences of opinion 
as to the extent of the educational program that should 
be provided at public expense. Almost all organized 
groups concerned with matters of public policy will, 
within limits, support education. It may well happen 
that an organization that is working for tax reductions 
and is, therefore, opposed to increased educational 
expenditures will support expenditures for specific 
purposes. The United States Chamber of Commerce 
has, for example, opposed increased Federal expendi- 
tures for education, but local chambers of commerce 
often favor increasing the local budgets for certain 
purposes. In some communities chambers of commerce 
have consistently favored adequate school budgets. 
Organizations that seek to prevent the study of certain 
controversial social problems or to secure the enactment 
of teachers' loyalty oath laws with the plain purpose of 
controlling teaching often favor a generous support 
for the kind of schools they believe in. Always there are 
individuals in such organizations who are intelligently 
loyal to the best interests of democracy and of the schools 
and who can be counted upon for support. 

The organized profession should heartily cooperate 
with all individuals and groups whenever they are willing 
to support progressive educational measures. But un- 
fortunately, there have been and are today many excep- 
tions to this desirable state of affairs. Educational 
policies are matters of controversy. Adequate budgets 
are opposed. Reactionary and chauvinistic political 

[ 184 ] 

A Social Program for the Teaching Profession 

and economic groups oppose freedom of teaching. 
Political machines seek to control schools for patronage 
purposes and have too often succeeded. 

There is simply no getting away from the fact that 
the maintenance of public education is at bottom a 
political problem. The controversy over educational 
policy is greatly intensified in a time of social and 
economic tension and change. Education being essential 
to the preservation of democracy, the friends of edu- 
cation must look to those political groups and forces 
that are fighting the battles of democracy. If fascism 
ever seriously threatens in this country and so long 
as millions are without that economic security essen- 
tial to their well-being and to the very existence of 
democracy, the threat of fascism will be a real danger 
the teaching profession will have no choice but definitely 
to ally itself with those political forces dedicated to the 
preservation of democracy. A serious threat of fascism 
will be accompanied by a determined effort to control 
the schools and to make them serve the purposes of 
reaction. The public schools are concerned with the 
welfare of the people. Teachers, if they would be loyal 
to their highest obligations as teachers and as citizens, 
must, then, be concerned with the welfare of the masses 
of the people in the fight against economic and political 
privilege. There can be no other choice, for the very 
continuance of education for democracy will be at stake. 
There is no other choice for teachers either as teachers 
or as citizens. 

A recent example of constructive leadership, of bold 
and imaginative action on the part of a teachers' associa- 
tion may be cited to illustrate the responsibilities that the 
profession faces in this field of public relations and 
the nature of some of the problems and issues involved. 
The state of Colorado was without an adequate program 

[ 185] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

of state support for schools. A large proportion of the 
wealth of this state of vast area and a population of 
about one million is concentrated in Denver, in which 
about 30 per cent of the population resides, in three 
or four smaller cities, and in the hands of six or eight 
large corporations including the railroads and other 
utilities. An income tax was essential to the solution of 
the financial difficulties of the commonwealth but was, 
of course, stoutly opposed by business and industry. 
The Colorado Education Association, under the able 
and courageous leadership of its secretary, William B. 
Mooney, became the spear point of a movement for 
an amendment to the state consitution authorizing a 
graduated income tax. The teachers formed a working 
alliance with farmers' organizations, organized labor, 
the parent-teacher organizations, and with other pro- 
gressive civic groups. The amendment was defeated in 
1934, but the lines held, with the result that in 1936, 
in the face of bitter opposition, the amendment carried 
by a large majority. In the session of the legislature 
following, a graduated income-tax law was enacted and 
a large proportion of the proceeds assigned to the schools 
of the state for the purpose of assisting the local dis- 
tricts in maintaining adequate schools. The income tax 
also served to reduce the tax load on real and personal 
property, thus reducing the tax burden on poorer com- 
munities and upon all citizens of modest means. But 
the costs of an old-age-pension measure, also voted 
in 1936, and of relief were high in Colorado, as in other 
states. The total educational budget of the state is 
about twenty-seven million dollars, whereas the cost to 
the state of the new program of old-age pensions is 
about eight millions! This is exclusive of the contribu- 
tion of the Federal government, which is about six mil- 
lions. Some of the big taxpapers looked with envy on 

[ 186] 

A Social Program for the Teaching Profession 

the proceeds of the income tax and determined to lighten 
their burdens by an assault on the support of the schools. 
Soon after the convening of the state legislature in 
January, 1939, a new governor, disregarding campaign 
pledges, made a sudden and dramatic demand that the 
proceeds of the income tax be diverted to the general 
funds of the state. He pictured the state as on the verge 
of bankruptcy. He asserted that these funds were neces- 
sary to carry the costs of the old-age pensions and of 
relief. Every political trick was employed for one pur- 
pose, to force a reduction in the cost of education in 
order to lessen the tax burden that would otherwise fall 
on those most able to pay, for it was not the people who 
were demanding this diversion. That the educational 
leadership of Colorado displayed the insight and courage 
that this crisis demanded is shown by the following 
message to the people and the teachers of the state, 
which the Colorado Education Association published 
in space paid for by the Association in the Rocky Moun- 
tain News of Denver on Jan. 26, 1939: 


The present income tax fight is an attempt to deny in 
Colorado the principle "that wealth shall be taxed where 
it is and to whomsoever it belongs to educate children where 
they are and to whomsoever they belong. " This is the principle 
upon which the support of the American public school system 
is based. Attempts to deny and defeat this principle have 
caused the major battles that have been fought in America 
relative to the support of the public schools. The fights to 
create the school system in America, more than one hundred 
years ago, were fought over this principle. The rich and 
wealthy, fortunately with many notable individual exceptions, 
were then and are now always found on one side of this battle ; 
the mass of the people, including the moderately-well-to-do, 
are always found on the other side. The fights have always 


Education for Democracy in Our Time 

been accompanied by name calling and astute attempts to 
take the minds of the people away from the real issue by 
"drawing red herrings across the trail." 

The present fight in Colorado is true to pattern. Ifc may be a 
long struggle during which many who ought to fight with the 
common people will be found, for political, personal, or other 
reasons, on the side of the rich and well-to-do. In these fights 
classroom teachers are always urged to turn against the super- 
intendents and other school administration officials and 
blame them for lack of money to adequately support the 
schools, just as was recently done in Colorado in a radio 
address by the present governor of the state. Boards of 
education in these fights are urged and sometimes forced to 
"crack down" on their superintendent of schools and teachers 
who may become too active in the fight on the side of the 
common people. It has always been a nasty fight because the 
leaders of this group who deny the principle, that wealth shall 
be taxed where it is and used to educate children where they 
are, are ruthless and will use, wherever they think it will be 
effective, the "crack down" methods with which they have 
won so many of their battles. Their viewpoint was and is 
"Why should I be forced to spend my money to educate the 
other fellow's children?" 

The fight is on in Colorado. You may become weary in the 
fight. You may be personally attacked. But when these things 
happen to you, remember the sacrifices your predecessors 
have made in fighting for the same principle, namely, "That 
wealth shall be taxed where it is and to whomsoever it belongs 
to educate children where they are and to whomsoever they 

Rich and wealthy citizens of Colorado, again, fortunately 
with many individual exceptions, are now fighting to divert 
the graduated income tax to the state general fund, thus 
making it "just another tax." In fighting for this diversion 
they hope to create popular sentiment against it which would 
eventually result in the repeal of that tax. The money arising 
from this tax, under the present law, is being used to support 
schools throughout the state with a corresponding reduction 

[ 188 ] 

A Social Program for the Teaching Profession 

in the property tax for that purpose. This use is of especial 
value to the poorer areas of the state that are unable, because 
of lack of wealth, to adequately support their schools. These 
rich and wealthy citizens object to the idea that their money 
should be used to support schools outside of the district in 
which they live and are therefore again denying the principle 
that wealth shall be taxed where it is to educate children where 
they are. 1 

The reader will observe the clarity with which the 
issues are drawn in this statement and the fact that class 
lines and interests were perfectly apparent in the con- 
flict. The teachers made no attempt to ignore this class 
alignment but, on the contrary, made explicit that this 
was a contest between the people and privilege. It is 
true, also, that many wealthy citizens of the state 
staunchly supported the schools in this crisis. The class 
alignments, although evident, were not sharp and clear, 
for the devotion to democracy and to education is deep 
among all the people. The point is that, in this episode 
in the old struggle of the people and against privilege, 
the teachers of the state had no option but to make the 
real issues clear to the general public. This is only one 
example, though a rather unusual one, of the public 
activities of the educational profession in this period. 
Numerous other examples could be cited. The profes- 
sion is making its influence felt in political affairs. This 
situation serves to illustrate another fact of profound 
importance. The individual states of the union are un- 
able to cope with many of the most basic economic and 
social problems, such as the problem of social security. 
These problems can be dealt with only on a national 

1 Colorado Education Association, Statement published in the Rocky 
Mountain News, Denver, Colorado, Jan. 26, 1939. 

I 189] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

The Form of Cooperation 

This brings us squarely to the question of the form 
that cooperation with other organized groups shall take. 
The most critical issue in this field at the present time 
is that of the desirability of teacher affiliation with 
organized labor. One organization, the American Federa- 
tion of Teachers, took this step over twenty years ago. 

Assuming that the labor union in question is devoted 
to the interests of democracy and that it employs the 
method of democracy both in the conduct of its own 
affairs and in all its public relations, there can be no 
question of the constitutional, professional, or moral 
right of a teacher to belong to it or of an organization 
of teachers to affiliate with it. This leaves open, how- 
ever, the question of whether such affiliation is desirable, 
and that question involves a number of important 
considerations. Only through organization can the mil- 
lions of workers who have no share in the ownership 
of the instruments of production and distribution make 
their influence effectively felt in our economic and politi- 
cal life. That teachers have a community of interests 
with organized labor and should cooperate with labor 
more closely is scarcely debatable. 

But a categorial answer cannot be given at the pres- 
ent time to the question of whether teachers should enter 
the organized labor movement. Decisions must be made 
in the light of conditions. Conditions vary from state to 
state, from community to community, and from time 
to time. The great body of the American people is not 
labor- or union-minded. The industrial workers consti- 
tute barely a third of all the workers of the country and 
less than half of these are in unions. The number of 
industrial workers seems actually to decline with the 
advance of technology. But few of the white-collar and 

[ 190 ] 

A Social Program for the Teaching Profession 

professional workers are unionized. Union labor will, 
therefore, perhaps for a long time, continue as a minority 
group. There is much reason to believe that the political 
importance of industrial workers has been greatly ex- 
aggerated under the influence of Marxian thought. 
The assumption that the political role of industrial 
workers will be more important than that of workers in 
the white-collar occupations or on farms certainly needs 
to be reexamined, especially in view of the part played 
by other groups in the last twenty-five years in the 
revolutionary changes in Italy, Germany, and even in 
Russia. The middle class is still strong in this country 
and comprises many elements. There is much reason to 
believe that the role of the intellectuals, a large group in 
modern society that includes teachers, may be more 
critical than that of almost any other element in society. 
In its insistence that the relation between teacher and 
administrator is comparable to the relationship between 
the worker and the boss or between the worker and the 
owner in industry, the teachers' union has certainly not 
been on sound ground. 1 

The argument for affiliation must rest upon the fact 
that organized labor has been and is today, despite 
much confusion as to purpose and methods and serious 
divisions, working for a better life for all those who carry 
on the productive work and services of society. It is 
working for the improvement of the lot of the common 
people. Some unions are conservative, even reactionary 
in outlook. Some are bedeviled by factions that are 
pursuing objectives and employing tactics that are cor- 
rosive and disruptive and that, however desirous of 
improving economic conditions these factions may be, 
sow discord where good will and cooperation are needed. 
But organized labor is today one of the strongest sup- 

1 This problem was considered in Chap. VII. 

[ 191 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

ports of American democracy and of public education. 
A strong labor movement is essential if the American 
people are to cope effectively with the economic and 
political problems that confront them. Such a labor 
movement must cooperate with farmers and with other 
occupational groups and with the liberal political forces 
of the country. It is for these reasons that I believe a 
strong case can be made for teacher affiliation with 
labor. Affiliation will certainly be defensible and may be 
desirable where teachers can effectively insist that the 
union in all its purposes and methods conform to the 
ideals of democracy and to those principles foundational 
to democratic, professional, and efficient educational 
administration. For teachers to accept the leadership 
of organized labor uncritically and subserviently would 
be as objectionable as subservience to organized business 
and industry or to any other group. And to me it seems 
also clear that in many localities and in many situations 
membership in teachers' unions is not as yet practicable. 
At this point I should like to make a distinction that 
seems to me important. Political cooperation can have 
many of the advantages of affiliation, with fewer of 
the disadvantages under present conditions. Obviously, 
the political situation does not indicate the desirability 
of teachers' organizations entering a political party now, 
though, as we have seen, a condition may arise that will 
leave no other option for those teachers who want to 
work effectively for the defense of democracy through 
a fuller realization of its possibilities. Under present 
conditions teachers should be selective in their support 
of candidates and of parties. They should make it clear 
that they will collectively oppose parties and candidates 
that are not committed to the promotion of the best 
interests of education and of democracy. Teachers should 
cooperate with those political groups working for such 

[ 192] 

A Social Program for the Teaching Profession 

broad objectives as an intelligently conceived program 
of social security, investment by government in housing 
and similar enterprises, adequate wages-and-hours leg- 
islation, the social use of taxation, the provision of real 
jobs for all at decent wages, adequate extension of essen- 
tial social services in such fields as health and physical 
education, the development of agencies for the planning 
and coordination of our economic life, and for other 
measures. The collaboration of the teachers of Colorado 
with labor and farm groups in the enactment of an 
income-tax measure is an example of the type of deliber- 
ate political cooperation that is desirable and often 
feasible where organic affiliation is not possible. 

The Present Situation 

Teachers need, then, to clarify their position on the 
critical issues confronting democracy in the United 
States at the present time and on the relation of educa- 
tion to the solution of these problems. They must, it 
seems to me, identify themselves more closely with the 
forces working for the preservation and realization of 
democracy. It is pertinent, then, to enquire what are 
the present attitudes of professional organizations with 
reference to these problems. 

The National Education Association underwent a re- 
organization in 1920 that made this organization much 
more democratic in its procedures and methods of con- 
trol. Policy is now determined by a representative 
assembly composed of delegates from the local and state 
affiliated associations, though the structure of the Asso- 
ciation is still cumbersome in many respects. The 
proposal, in 1920, of a group of superintendents of 
schools that the Department of Superintendence secede 
from the N.E.A. fortunately won little support, and a 

[ 193 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

serious split between teachers and administrators was 
thus avoided. 

With a record of distinguished service, the N.E.A. 
is today performing many valuable functions. After the 
reorganization, the membership grew rapidly and is now 
about two hundred thousand. A research department was 
established, a journal was launched that circulates to 
the entire membership, and the association became much 
more active in its advocacy of Federal aid and of other 
measures. Much more attention has been given to the 
social aspects of education in the programs of its meetings 
and in the studies made by its committees. In 1935 
the association set up a Commission on Educational 
Policies that has already brought out important reports, 
including "The Unique Function of Education in Ameri- 
can Democracy," "The Structure and Administration 
of Education in American Democracy/' and "The Pur- 
poses of Education in American Democracy," and is 
engaged on other important studies. 

The rise to influence of other national organizations 
must be explained in part by the earlier failure of the 
N.E.A. to meet with boldness and imagination some of 
the most critical issues confronting education. There was 
some indication that the initiative in education was 
passing to other organizations such as the American 
Council on Education, the Progressive Education Asso- 
ciation, and to the American Federation of Teachers. In 
recent years, however, the association has again been 
much more vigorous in its leadership. An examination 
of the reports of its committees and of the resolutions 
adopted by the association and by its various depart- 
ments compels the conclusion that no organization has 
spoken with more clarity on the basic social problems 
confronting education. Like all other teachers' organiza- 
tions the N.E.A. has now come to a critical juncture in 

[ 194] 

A Social Program for the Teaching Profession 

its history. It is faced with the necessity of defining much 
more clearly its position on the critical social problems 
confronting education and the profession. Its future use- 
fulness will depend on whether liberal or conservative 
influences finally prevail in its counsels. 

The impact of the Progressive Education Associa- 
tion on American education through its conferences, 
researches, and publications has been most salutary. 
But it, too, is faced with the same dilemma that con- 
fronts other organizations. The leading spokesmen for 
the movement, although stressing the social nature of 
education and insisting that the school should concern 
itself with actual social problems, have at the same time 
held that method is the vital consideration in education 
and have strongly opposed any form of " indoctrination." 
As one has phrased it, the school ' l should avoid teaching 
the pupils what to think, even about a democratic form 
of government. 7 ' Others in this movement have main- 
tained that education should be carried on in a definite 
democratic frame of reference as regards purpose, con- 
tent, and method and that economic and social conditions 
and proposals for reconstruction should be examined in 
the light of the meaning of democracy today in short, 
that the school must be concerned with what youth 
think about the problems of contemporary American 
life. The membership of this association, now about 
ten thousand, has doubled in the last ten or twelve years. 
Originally, the active membership was confined largely 
to teachers in progressive private schools, but today 
teachers from the public schools constitute a majority. 
The association is now engaged in an attempt to work 
out more clearly its educational and social philosophy. 
Concerned primarily with the direction, content, and 
method of education, this society has supplied a needed 
emphasis and has an important function to perform. 

[ 195 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

To discharge this function the society must now accept 
an educational philosophy that comes to grips with the 
operational meanings of democracy in our economic, 
political, and social life today. 

The American Federation of Teachers, which now has 
a membership of some thirty thousand, also faces serious 
problems. The labor situation was in some respects more 
propitious for unionism among teachers when the federa- 
tion was founded twenty years ago than at the present 
time, for labor is now divided into two hostile camps. 
Neither wing of the movement has achieved a clear 
economic and political orientation, though in some 
respects the C.I.O. seems more socially-minded arid 
progressive than the older organization. Traditionally, 
organized labor in this country has been interested pri- 
marily in strictly trade-union objectives and methods, 
in obtaining better wages and conditions of work, and 
has been opposed to affiliation with a particular political 
party. Today the belief is growing in the ranks of labor 
that the problems of employment and security can be 
solved only as the economy is reconstructed and that 
labor must rely in larger measure on political action. 

It is argued that teachers can accomplish more within 
the labor movement than outside of it. As we have seen, 
this surely depends on circumstances at a particular 
time and in a particular situation. It is significant that 
in 1935 a group of almost a thousand teachers, contain- 
ing many of its charter members, were driven out of 
Local 5 of the American Federation of Teachers in New 
York City by the activities of communists and other left- 
wing political sects who, though in a minority, were able 
to control the local. Among those driven out were 
Dr. Henry Linville, an outstanding leader in the federa- 
tion from its inception, and Dr. John Dewey. Recently 
other nationally known liberal educators have resigned 

[ 196] 

A Social Program for the Teaching Profession 

from the New York locals in protest against the domi- 
nance and tactics of these same sects. Today the sects 
are waging an internecine war within these locals and 
in the national organization that threatens the whole 
union movement. It is this element more than any other 
that perpetuates the notion that the boss-worker rela- 
tionships obtains in education and that employs tactics 
that are at many points inconsistent with the principles 
of democracy. In Chicago the union has been, in recent 
years, a vigorous and constructive influence in the 
struggle to build a public opinion that w r ill wrest the 
control of the schools of that city from the politicians 
and will assure adequate civic and financial support. 
Over half the teachers of the city now belong to the 

The American Federation of Teachers has rendered 
an important service in its fight for academic freedom, 
for participation of teachers in policy making, for free- 
dom from deadening mechanical supervision, and for 
the securement of adequate salary, tenure, and pension 
legislation. Its most important service has undoubtedly 
been in the social education of teachers both within and 
without the movement. The contribution that the Fed- 
eration of Teachers could make is much needed at the 
present time. Its greatest usefulness in the immediate 
future lies mainly in the direction of the political educa- 
tion of the profession and in pioneering in collaboration 
not only with labor but with other political groups. 
The teachers' union, like the Progressive Education 
Association, has done and can do much to move the 
N.E.A. and other state and local organizations in the 
direction in which they should go. This good work is 
now endangered by internal factional struggles, par- 
ticularly in certain locals. The federation needs, above 
all, to clarify its social and educational philosophy and 

[ 197 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

objectives and to make clear that it will not tolerate 
methods that are not democratic or that are inconsistent 
with the highest conception of professional procedure, 
so that liberal-minded teachers may feel free to join it. 
That this is the point of view of the great majority of 
the members of the organization the country over can- 
not be doubted. 1 

A significant development is the growing influence of 
the foundations and of the American Council on Educa- 
tion. Only in the last decade have the foundations given 
much attention to general problems of elementary and 
secondary education, but in recent years large grants 
have been made for the study of education at these 
levels and for the study of the problems of youth. Much 
of the research financed by these foundations is now 
carried out under the auspices of the American Council 
on Education. The council is composed of representa- 
tives from various educational organizations, founda- 
tions, schools, colleges, and universities public, private, 
and parochial. The council was undoubtedly very influ- 
ential in the appointment of the President's Advisory 
Committee on Education. 

Every grant made by a foundation involves decisions 
of great moment to American democracy and education. 
These grants involve decisions as to what problems are 
important to be studied and as to what educators are 
most competent to conduct the studies. It is doubtful 
whether either the educational profession or the public 
is aware of the extent to which education is today 
influenced by those who control and dispense these 

1 The deliberations of the annual convention of the federation at 
Buffalo in August, 1939, since the above was written, indicate that this 
majority will prevail in its counsels and that this national organization 
will play an increasingly important and constructive role in American 
education and life. 

[ 198] 

A Social Program for the Teaching Profession 

funds. Usually the funds are granted " without strings/' 
Much of the experimentation and research carried out 
on these grants is of great value. But one must be very 
naive to believe that those who have the power to dis- 
tribute these funds have no social orientation or no 
ideas as to what they would like to see achieved socially 
through the American school. The truth is that those 
who allocate these funds are selective as to the problems 
to be investigated, the methods to be employed in the 
investigations, and particularly with reference to the edu- 
cators who are to carry on the investigations. The 
foundations are willing to support only those educational 
activities, researches, and institutions that are under 
11 sound" leadership. It has been good fortune that the 
direction of these foundations has, with some exceptions, 
been in the hands of men of liberal intellectual and 
social outlook. 

A Social Program for the Organized Profession 

It is obviously not possible and would be presumptuous 
to attempt to outline here a solution for all of the crucial 
problems of purpose, organization, method, and affilia- 
tion that confront the organized profession at the present 
time. My purpose has been rather to analyze the prob- 
lem, to indicate the broad objectives for which teachers' 
organizations must work and the principles in accord- 
ance with which they should operate. However, some 
guiding principles and some elements of such a program 
do emerge from our analysis. These I shall attempt to 
summarize briefly. 

1. Organization is essential for the discharge of the pro- 
fession's collective educational and social responsibilities. 

2. Teachers' organizations should stimulate their 
members everywhere to the study of education in its 

[ 199] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

broadest and deepest social relationships. This study is 
already under way but needs to be greatly extended and 

3. These associations should work to make every 
American school a school for democracy, a school in 
which children and youth and adults make a realistic 
study of the problems of democracy in our time and 
a school which, in all of its practices, embodies the 
principles of democracy. 

4. Organized teachers should work for the actual 
realization of the ideal of equality of educational oppor- 
tunity in the United States, so that no boy or girl, because 
of the economic status of his family, will ever be denied 
the educational opportunity to which he is entitled. 
This involves the extension of the principles of state- 
supported schools, of Federal support for general educa- 
tion at all levels, and of subsistence grants to economically 
underprivileged children and youth wherever necessary. 

5. Organized teachers should work for the strength- 
ening of teacher-training institutions, including both the 
state teachers' colleges and university schools of educa- 
tion. They should insist upon a much more thorough 
preparation for the teacher, one that will include a 
thorough grounding in the foundations of education. 

6. The organized profession must courageously resist 
all antidemocratic movements in this country, organized 
and unorganized, all attempts to suppress our civil 
liberties, to interfere with freedom of teaching and the 
rights of teachers as citizens. 

7. Educational organizations concerned with problems 
of policy should take their stand squarely with the masses 
of the American people in the battle for democracy 
against the forces of privilege and reaction. They cannot 
be indifferent to the economic maladjustments that have 
deprived the majority of American citizens of economic 

r 200 i 

A Social Program for the Teaching Profession . 

8. The social and political education of teachers must, 
then, be in the future one of the most important func- 
tions of the organized profession. 

9. The profession must cooperate with those organized 
groups in American society working for the protection of 
democracy and for the realization of the democratic ideal 
through the utilization of the resources of the country 
in the interests of all its people. This will call for collabo- 
ration with labor unions, with organizations of farmers, 
with various cultural, welfare, and professional groups. 
The time may well soon come when active participation 
in a liberal political movement will be essential to the 
protection of democracy. 

10. The organized profession should, of course, con- 
tinue to carry on the study of education in its more 
technical aspects and should concern itself with the 
interests of teachers wherever these interests are in the 
public interest. 

The leading teachers' organizations of the country 
have been moving in a very encouraging way in the 
direction of a more realistic facing of their social respon- 
sibilities. These organizations have now, however, come 
to a fork in the road, to a place where they must make 
fundamental decisions, where they must choose whether 
they will continue as a constructive force for democracy 
or, perhaps unconsciously, and with the best of inten- 
tions, throw the weight of their influence on the side of 
reaction. The responsibility for this choice is one that is 
shared by every member of the profession. The writer, 
for one, is fully aware of his own responsibilities and of 
his own sins of commission and of omission. This is the 
time for all to take stock. 

The Need for Unity of Action 

A plurality of organizations is plainly unavoidable 
under present conditions. But plurality of organization 

[201 1 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

need not of itself mean division in the ranks of educa- 
tion. The present situation calls for the closest coopera- 
tion, particularly between such organizations as the 
National Education Association, the American Federa- 
tion of Teachers, and the Progressive Education 
Association. The former is the logical organization to 
take the lead in fostering this cooperation and in bringing 
about unity of effort. 

[ 202 ] 



THE reasons for the deepening concern of the American 
people about education become apparent in the light 
of an analysis such as has been made in the preceding 

"Education is a form of social action." The purpose 
of education is to modify behavior, to make the indi- 
vidual a different person from what he would otherwise 
be. It is for this reason that educational policy is always 
social policy and that, in the modern world, the school 
is employed, deliberately, for the achievement of definite 
social purposes, becomes, in fact, a crucial element in 
national policy. 

Education as Social Policy 

It is out of a failure to comprehend the social nature 
of the educative process that much of the confusion as to 
social purposes and the social consequences of organ- 
ized education arises today. In the minds even of many 
serious students of the problem true education has 
nothing to do with social policy, is not, and in the nature 
of the case, cannot be concerned with building in the 
individual particular social attitudes toward the prob- 

( 203 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

lems of a particular culture at a particular time. In the 
words of President Robert M. Hutchins: 

One purpose of education is to draw out the elements of 
our common human nature. These elements are the same in 
any time and place. The notion of educating a man to live 
in any particular time or place, to adjust him to any particular 
environment, is, therefore, foreign to a true conception of 

Education implies teaching. Teaching implies knowledge. 
Knowledge is truth. The truth is everywhere the same. Hence 
education should be everywhere the same. I do not overlook 
the possibilities of differences in organization, in administra- 
tion, in local habits and customs. These are details. I suggest 
that the heart of any course of study designed for the whole 
people will be, if education is rightly understood, the same 
at any time, in any place, under any political, social, or 
economic conditions. . . . l 

A pronouncement of this kind from such an eminent 
source has enough of truth in it to be doubly dangerous. 
There are elements in knowledge and education that 
have become truly the heritage of all mankind. For 
example, the modern world is indebted to the ancient 
Greeks for many invaluable and enduring contributions 
to culture and thought. Yet it is difficult to understand 
how such a theory as that set forth by President Hutchins 
can be advanced in the face of modern scholarship and 
the conditions existing in the contemporary world. Such 
a dictum ignores much that anthropology, history, and 
philosophy have taught us. Neither education nor 
"truth" are in all respects the same in contemporary 
America as in ancient Greece or ancient China or in a 
primitive culture or in Nazi Germany. Fascism requires 

1 Robert Maynard Hutchins, The Higher Learning in America^ Yale 
University Press, 1936. 


Education and the Future of American Democracy 

one kind of education, democracy, another; for education 
always affects social habits and social attitudes. 

Four principal attitudes toward the relation of educa- 
tion to social processes, social problems, and social 
change are discernible in this country today. These 
views are often implicit in policies actually pursued 
rather than explicit in pronouncements a fact that only 
adds to the general confusion. One of the gravest dangers 
in the present situation is the failure of educators to 
understand the actual effects of educational practices. 
There is no greater need than that of subjecting prac- 
tice to searching analysis so that its actual social impli- 
cations may be lifted to the level of consciousness. As 
serious damage may be done by the well-meaning who 
are uninformed as by avowed enemies of democracy who 
know what they are doing. But some of the proponents 
of some of the views that I shall now examine do not 
believe in democracy and freedom of inquiry, at least 
not in all areas of experience. Some are believers in 
authoritarian systems and practices that in the sphere 
of their operations negate both the scientific method 
and the principles of democracy. Let us examine briefly 
these four points of view. 

1. One school of thought holds that education has a 
universal character that transcends all temporal mani- 
festations, all historic periods, all cultures, that is valid 
without reference to time or place. This view implies a 
system of absolutes. Knowledge is the same everywhere. 
Ethical values are the same everywhere and always. 
Education is a search for universal truth. This is, in 
essence, the teaching of that medieval authoritarianism 
that was rooted in the Platonic metaphysics. Usually 
some group or some authority assumes that it has the 
truth or that it alone has access to the truth, though 
that was not the spirit of Greek philosophy. 


Education for Democracy in Our Time 

At one time it was the medieval church that, for ex- 
ample, had the " truth" in the Ptolemaic explanation of 
the heavenly bodies and their movements, that was 
intolerant of the scientific discoveries of Galileo and 
Copernicus, and that sought to compel acceptance. This 
philosophy has generally assumed a higher and a lower 
order of reality and of knowledge that correspond in a 
striking and significant manner to the higher and lower 
orders of society. This is the philosophical outlook that 
has so long been employed to justify the existing order 
of things in the Western world : the social arrangements 
of the feudal system or property rights as against human 
rights under that economic system known as capitalism. 

The real world is supcrsensuous; it is non-material and 
unchangeable ; it is made up of certain eternal and immutable 
essences . . . called ideas. . . . Our ideas of truth, goodness, 
and beauty are valid ideas, riot by the test of experience 
but by their correspondence or conformity to the supreme 
essences which go by the same name. 1 

The rise of modern science and the growth of the ideals 
and practices of democracy have challenged this system 
of thought, but it is still powerful in the world today. 
Most authoritarian systems, whether political, moral, 
or religious, stem back in some way to Plato, whose 
Republic was a prototype for dictatorships in all times 
and places. 

It is highly essential that the implications of this 
philosophy be understood. It is inimical to the modern 
spirit to the spirit and the method of modern science 
and to the spirit of democracy. It will employ science, 
but to its own ends. Certain areas of life will always be 

1 Boyd H. Bode, Progressive Education at the Crossroads f pp. 21-22, 
Newson and Company, 1938. 

[ 206 ] 

Education and the Future of American Democracy 

closeo to scientific inquiry. Even Dr. Hutchins has this 
to say on the subject of science: "The study would not 
proceed from the most recent observations back to first 
principles, but from first principles to whatever recent 
observations were significant in understanding them. . . . 
The higher learning is concerned primarily with thinking 
about fundamental problems/' 1 This surely puts the cart 
before the horse. Thinking about fundamental prob- 
lems is certainly needed in the world today as never 
before, but unfettered and searching inquiry and assem- 
bling of verified data pertaining to these problems is also 
needed and is necessary to fruitful thinking. To begin 
with "first principles," if we may judge by the history 
of thought in the Western world, means to begin with a 
set of unexamined assumptions. Such a doctrine con- 
demns us to the intellectual sterility of medieval scho- 
lasticism in the critical areas of politics, morals, and 

It is time that American educators see and fully 
understand where such a doctrine leads. This is not an 
attack on President Hutchins, who has rendered dis- 
tinguished service both to public education and to 
democracy. Many who have not freed themselves from 
these traditional concepts of the nature of knowledge 
and of truth, of the source of moral values, and of the 
nature of education are sincere believers in democracy. 
The danger is that many do not see, in the words of 
Professor Gideonse, that 

The Great Tradition in metaphysics, to which Mr. Hutchins 
seeks to recall the university, seemed to hold that after con- 
frontation with a certain amount of data it could reach first 
principles which were absolute and subject to no further 
modification. And so under the emotional seduction of having 

1 Hutchins, op. dt. (italics mine, J. H. N.) 

[ 207 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

achieved absolute truth, an early and in itself noble stage of 
thought came to be considered the final stage of thought. 1 

The effect of this doctrine can only be, then, to stifle the 
inquiry and thought that are now so much needed in 
the realm of politics and morals, for the baffling social 
and economic problems of our times are fundamentally 
moral and political problems. The philosophy under re- 
view can and will always be employed to justify the 
status quo with all its injustices, just as Hegel employed 
it a century ago to confer validity on the autocratic 
Prussian state. The persistence of this conception in 
the modern world would be amazing did history not 
teach us that privilege never surrenders its advantages 
without a struggle, for, to quote Professor Bode again, 
it is difficult to understand why "a modern man should 
pass by all that science and racial experience may have 
to say on the subject and lightheartedly assume that this 
ancient theory makes sense or that the absolutes are 
anything but human prejudices invested with a halo and 
put on ice." 2 

This theory scornfully rejects the notion that educa- 
tion has anything to do with social policy. But the theory 
itself has the deepest social implications ; it serves today 
as the underpinning of the most reactionary of social 
policies. It commits education in the end to social 
sterility and thus to becoming the handmaiden of reac- 
tion. I do not see how any other interpretation can be 
placed upon its operational effects. 

2. According to a second view, which may or may not 
be supported by theoretical foundations, education is an 
instrument to be used for instillation in the young of 
loyalty to a predetermined set of social ideals in other 

1 Harry D. Gidconse, The Higher Learning in a Democracy, Farrar 
and Rinehart, 1937. 

2 Bode, op. cit. 

[ 208 ] 

Education and the Future of American Democracy 

words for plain propaganda purposes. This may be 
propaganda for desired social change or for the main- 
tenance of the status quo. The purpose is not to educate 
the individual in the sense of bringing about a full devel- 
opment of his intellectual powers and of making him 
intellectually a free man. The purpose is not an objective 
search for truth. The purpose is rather to limit freedom 
of inquiry, of aesthetic creation and expression, of speech 
and of publication in recognition of the fact that intelli- 
gence is always dangerous to vested interests, to privilege, 
and to dogmatism of whatever kind. The forces seeking 
to prevent desirable and essential economic and social 
reconstruction unhesitatingly, though in most instances 
unconsciously, resort to this method. The forces of reac- 
tion do not hesitate to use the schools for their own pur- 
poses, either by overt or subtle pressures or through 
legislative or administrative control. 

We see this policy in operation in the fascist states 
today and also in Russia, for there, too, freedom of 
inquiry, freedom of speech, and of publication are 
rigidly proscribed. The theoretical foundations and the 
avowed economic purposes of the Russian regime were 
originally fundamentally different from those of the 
fascist regimes. This regime has collectivised the instru- 
ments of production and has professed its intention to 
abolish class distinctions; it was dedicated to the promo- 
tion of the welfare of every individual; fascism openly 
perpetuates the inequalities and class distinctions of the 
existing economic system, at the same time utterly 
destroying the values of liberalism and democracy. 
Theoretically, the dictatorship of the proletariat is sup- 
posed to wither away under communism and be replaced 
by democracy. In Russia, however, the dictatorship is 
stronger today than it was twenty years ago more 
vigilant, more complete in the areas of its operation, and 

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Education for Democracy in Our Time 

more ruthless, as the purges and recent aggressions in 
alliance with Hitler have made plain. Americans doubtless 
have something to learn from the Russian experiment, 
but the course of dictatorship should be a warning to us, 
and in no respect more than in the intellectual realm and 
in education. It is inconceivable that autocracy and intel- 
lectual proscription can ever be employed as instruments 
of democracy. 

The principle that at bottom underlies this social and 
educational policy is force, sheer brute force. It may be 
shocking to some of the well-intentioned advocates of 
the limitation of freedom of teaching in this country to 
remind them that they, too, are seeking to control men's 
minds by force. But no other conclusion is admissible, 
for all attempts to enslave men's minds must, in the 
end, rely on authority or force. All in the end assume 
the validity of a system of predetermined absolutes. It is 
for this reason that the philosophical idealism derived 
in various forms from the philosophy of Plato or from 
St. Thomas Aquinas becomes the theoretical support of 
so many contemporary authoritarian systems. The 
Communist party, and certain other left-wing sects 
organized and operating on the principle of the Com- 
munist party, have made of the Marxian doctrines a 
new absolutism. It was, no doubt, the danger of such 
absolutism that led Marx himself on one occasion to 
cry out against "the Marxians." 

Again, all these groups trying to confine teaching 
within definite grooves, whether in the interest of the 
status quo or otherwise, support the argument that 
education always has its social consequences, that educa- 
tional policy is always social policy. If education did not 
affect the attitudes and behavior of men, these interests 
would not be so concerned about it. As we have seen, 
too much authoritarianism inheres today in our educa- 


Education and the Future of American Democracy 

tional practices. This authoritarianism is in large 
measure a heritage from the past that has been accepted 

3. The third point of view need not be elaborated in 
great detail at this point. 1 This has been the dominant 
view of progressive education. According to this con- 
ception, education is a social process that always has 
social consequences. 

Education is essential to the perpetuation of democ- 
racy, but the school must not educate directly for 
democracy. That would be to defeat the purpose of 
democracy that emphasizes the vital importance of 
freedom. More important, it would not be, in the true 
sense, education. Controversial problems should be 
studied in the school, but the teacher should not aim 
directly at building in youth allegiance to any particular 
conception of the ends and means of human welfare. 
Awareness seems to be the key word of this school of 
thought. A recent tentative formulation of a philosophy 
for progressive education holds that 

We look to education, in short, to make the culture aware 
of itself in order that its essential values may be made moro 
effective. Education is thus to be put in the service of the 
democratic culture not to be dominated by it, but to function 
as an agency conscious of its obligation to free the individual 
and the culture alike from the domination of hysterical 
leaders, authoritarian values, fragmentary ideals, and the 
inertia of ignorance. 2 

This report lists the characteristics of democratic per- 
sonality as social sensitivity, tolerance, cooperativeness, 
disposition and ability to use reflective thinking, cre- 
ativeness, self-direction, aesthetic appreciations, and, of 

1 See Chaps. I, V, VI. 

2 A Tentative Report of the Committee on Philosophy of Education, 
Progressive Education Association, 1939. 

f 211 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

course, respect for human personality. Another admir- 
able and penetrating statement of this general position 
appeared some time ago in the journal, Progressive 

What is the duty of education to the social order in a democratic 

Objectives for education are incomplete without full 
consideration of the society in which pupils arc to live, and to 
the carrying on and improvement of which they should 

But social systems tend to use the schools as an effective 
means to perpetuate themselves. Is it consistent with such 
basic ideals of democracy as freedom of thought, freedom of 
speech, and freedom of continuance or change of institutions 
as the people themselves shall at any time decide, for a 
democratic form of government to teach its children to per- 
petuate our present-day society as other systems teach their 
children to perpetuate theirs? I think not. 

The schools of a democracy are in duty bound, however, 
to do the following things : 

1. They should acquaint their pupils with what is significant 
in man's progress from savagery to and including his present 
stage of civilization. 

2. They should teach their pupils to think as clearly as they 
are able to do. Implied in this is training against the influences 
of prejudice and propaganda, fears, and selfishness. It involves 
the study and free discussion of moot questions, and the form- 
ing of opinions, though often only tentative ones. 

3. They should make clear the difference between the ideals 
of democracy and the fundamentals of other ideologies. 

4. They should give their pupils experience in carrying 
on group affairs, and should give them such contact with 
community affairs and participation in them as proves 
possible and valuable. 

5. They should avoid teaching the pupils what to think, 
even about a democratic form of government. 1 

1 Eugene Randolph Smith, Progressive Education, May, 1938. 

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Education and the Future of American Democracy 

This is a point of view that is entitled to the utmost 
respect. The emergence of this conception was one of 
the most significant developments in the history of 
education because of its emphasis on the critical func- 
tion of thinking. The problems with which this concep- 
tion is concerned are complex, and the dangers are 
great. Education must aim, first of all, at the building 
of minds that are sensitive to the social realities of the 
world in which they live, that are free, that have acquired 
the capacity for thinking for themselves, because they 
have had opportunity to think for themselves. But to 
me these formulations, despite their many excellencies, 
contain inconsistencies and are inadequate. The first 
formulation sets objectives so broad and general as to 
be almost meaningless for the guidance of education 
with reference to the most critical issues now confronting 
American society. Freedom of thought, speech, and press 
are democratic values. To foster these values is to foster 
democracy. There is no escaping the fact, however, that 
the maintenance of such values will always be dependent 
on certain external conditions, on economic security for 
the individual, to cite but one example. All will agree, 
I think, that education cannot be indifferent to the 
conditions in the social order that threaten the very 
existence of democracy. These external conditions must 
be subjects of study. But, it is argued by the proponents 
of the view under consideration: 

The development of a scientific attitude toward social problems, 
rather than indoctrination, is the goal. While controversial 
issues of social life should define certain of the materials of the 
good curriculum, this does not mean that the schools should 
teach children what to think regarding these issues. Indeed 
such indoctrination would be contrary to the very spirit which 
demands a study of such issues. The understanding that such 
indoctrination would defeat the very purpose of education 

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Education for Democracy in Our Time 

makes the problem of centering the curriculum on the social 
studies more approachable. To think, not what to think, is the 
good curriculum's objective for the child. 1 

Surely this doctrine can no longer be accepted as an 
adequate statement of the purpose and method of educa- 
tion for democracy. To me it now seems clear that if 
education is to serve democracy, it must build in youth 
understanding of its problems and implications and an 
informed loyalty to democracy as a way, the best way 
of life. Education that does not dispose to action is not 
education. To win youth thus to democracy is to assure 
the preservation of the "essential values" of our culture, 
such as freedom of inquiry, speech, and press, religious 
freedom, freedom of teaching, and government by the 
people. A century ago democracy was truly evangelical. 
Has it lost its vitality? Will it be able to withstand the 
onslaughts of authoritarianism in the twentieth century 
if it has not the will to make converts to its values? 
For that matter, do not these formulations in reality 
recognize the necessity of winning youth to the demo- 
cratic ideal? 

The point is that this view seems to hold that the 
method of education is more important than purpose or 
content and, therefore, cannot be controlled by a 
democratic social frame of reference such as has been 
developed in the preceding pages. A process of educa- 
tion is by this doctrine made a sort of absolute. Social 
conditions are to be studied but not actually appraised 
in the light of such an interpretation of the meaning of 
democracy for the United States today as was, for 
example, set forth in Chap. IV. It is not essential that 
youth should see that laissez faire is no longer workable, 
that the economy must be brought more under demo- 

1 The Department of Superintendence, Tenth Yearbook, National 
Education Association, Washington, D.C., 1932. 


Education and the Future of American Democracy 

cratic social control, that the absence of economic 
security for millions is undermining democracy, that 
more extensive economic planning is essential. 

In the hands of such educators as the authors of these 
statements, the method under review would have a cut- 
ting edge. The learner would be squarely confronted 
with the actualities of social conditions and of social 
problems. Thinking would be stimulated, and thinking 
is always dangerous to the status quo. But this theory, 
followed to its logical conclusion, compels the teacher to 
avoid the steps essential to enabling the learner to see and 
make as his own the only possible inferences in many 
critical situations involving the principles, values, needs, 
and instrumentalities of democracy. It means that in 
actual practice the schools of democracy would be freed 
from direct concern for the future of democracy. Incredible 
though it may appear, this seems the only possible 
deduction from this doctrine when carried to its logical 
conclusion. The danger is that the school would thus 
appear always in a deceptive cloak of liberalism. Pressed 
to its limits, this theory might well, in time of crisis, so 
sterilize education as to make it a perfect support for 
social reaction and thus provide teachers an escape from 
danger in a time of social conflict and uncertainty. 
To hold that this procedure is the only alternative to 
teaching a blue print of a new social order is unrealistic, 
for there is a vast difference between enabling youth to 
understand the necessity of an extension of democratic 
social control of the economy, or of planning, and teach- 
ing a blue print for the new order. 

4. A fourth view of the relation of education to social 
problems and social change has been presented in these 
pages. The conception of education as experience is the 
only conception suited to democracy. The process of true 
education, education that seeks to free men and not to 

[215 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

enslave them, is vital. Intellectual freedom is one of 
the fundamental ideals and conditions of democracy. 
Through the practice of this freedom the individual 
should be made conscious of its value and loyal to it. 
But since education always has positive social conse- 
quences, it should be deliberately planned for the 
achievement of purposes deemed desirable. 

To this end, education should seek to give youth under- 
standing of the operational meaning of democracy in our 
time in all its bearings economic, political, social, moral, 
and aesthetic. Social conditions should be studied and 
appraised in accordance with this meaning. This does 
not mean the teaching of detailed blue prints of a 
particular plan for social reconstruction, for that would 
be inconsistent with the experimental character of edu- 
cation and of democracy. All proposals for social re- 
construction should be examined and evaluated in 
accordance with the values and needs of democracy. 
Youth should be led to see the relationship between 
economic security for the individual and the preservation 
of democracy. The highly integrated character of our 
economy and the necessity for increased control of the 
instruments and processes of production and distribu- 
tion by all the people in the interest of all the people 
should be made clear. The values as well as the defects 
that have inhered in economic individualism and in the 
historic conception of liberalism should also be made 
clear. The inequalities and the injustices in the distri- 
bution of the national income and the danger of the 
concentration of wealth in the hands of a few in a democ- 
racy should also be made very clear. All important points 
of view should be fairly considered. Nothing would be 
concealed. No critical problem would be evaded. But 
education should, nevertheless, be consciously planned 
to win American youth to loyalty to democracy thus 


Education and the Future of American Democracy 

interpreted. And loyalty to democracy thus interpreted 
means loyalty to the ideals of freedom of inquiry, freedom 
of thought, of speech, of publication. 

This conception frankly recognizes that moulding of 
the individual is unavoidable. All education is a process 
of influencing the development of the mind and of atti- 
tudes. To bring the child into the environment of the 
school is to make him a different individual from what 
he would otherwise be. If education is to foster democ- 
racy, it must be consciously designed to build in the 
individual those qualities essential to effective participa- 
tion in a democracy. This conception of education will be 
vigorously opposed by many interests in society. But 
it should be supported by all who are devoted to the 
interests of the common man and to the principles of 
democracy, for there is no time to lose. The responsibility 
that this conception imposes on teachers as a functional 
group has already been considered. 

The kinship of the first two points of view considered 
has been pointed out. Under the conception that truth 
is universal, that education has no concern with a par- 
ticular culture but only with eternal verities, the teacher 
withdraws into an ivory tower so far as the world of 
present realities is concerned. By failing to come to 
grips with present realities education betrays the cause 
of democracy. Under the second conception the teacher 
is but a tool of the dominant forces in society. The kin- 
ship of the third and fourth points of view is also evident. 
Both conceptions take account of the social nature and 
purpose of the educative process. The danger in the 
third conception is that it may lead to a specious neu- 
trality. The fourth conception makes of the school a 
truly creative and constructive force for democracy and 
frankly recognizes the political and social responsibilities 
of the organized teaching profession in a democracy. 


Education for Democracy in Our Time 

The third and fourth conceptions stem from the same 
school of philosophical and social thought. Both wings 
of this school of thought have the same broad objec- 
tives in view. But the third view holds that, in his 
capacity as teacher, the teacher must refrain from delib- 
erate attempts to influence the views of the learner even 
with reference to the most fundamental social problems. 

The Myth of Neutrality 

Nothing could be more perilous than a policy of drift 
in education. There remains to be examined, then, 
the question of whether education can ever be neutral. 

This problem is complicated by the widespread 
acceptance among educators of the belief that education 
is always controlled by the will of society. There are, 
of course, always large areas in which a consensus has 
been reached as to what constitutes desirable moral 
conduct. The vast majority of Americans are, for 
example, agreed as to the greater desirability of democ- 
racy as compared with any other social system. But 
even in the areas of politics and morals there are serious 
disagreements. For example, the practice of charity has 
always been proclaimed, and is proclaimed today, as one 
of the greatest virtues, but in a society that made 
efficient use of its natural and technological resources 
and that had genuine respect for personality, charity 
would be unnecessary. It would be not only unnecessary 
but socially undesirable because of its effect on the 
recipient. Charity would be a vice and not a virtue. In 
the minds of many the conception of charity has no 
place in the modern world. Moral values are thus 
affected by changing conditions. And so in 1939, direct 
relief, that is, the dole, for the unemployed able to 
work is vigorously opposed by many on moral and social 
grounds. They contend that it is the social and moral 


Education and the Future of American Democracy 

obligation of society to provide steady employment at 
decent wages for all able to work and that the obligation 
to care for those unable to work is not an obligation 
to charity but a debt that society owes to individuals 
whose misfortunes are no fault of their own but are, in 
fact, usually products of undesirable social conditions. 
Or, again, although we may and do have an over- 
whelming consensus in favor of democracy, we are by 
no means agreed as to the economic and political meas- 
ures required to implement the democratic ideal today. 

When we look closely at American society or at the 
public, we discern at once that in many of its manifesta- 
tions it is not unitary but plural in character. Certainly 
two of the most important characteristics of our society 
are its class structure and the powerful interest groups 
contained within it. What we call the will of society or 
public opinion is likely to be the will or the opinion of 
the most articulate groups or class in society. The groups 
with the greatest resources, the ablest advocates, the 
best organization are most articulate and most influential 
in the formation of the "public mind." But these groups 
may not in reality represent the thought or the best 
interests of the people. As we have seen, the great 
masses of the people lack organization and are today 
neither articulate nor well-informed as to their own 
best interests. American history affords abundant evi- 
dence that with our democratic institutions and traditions 
the interests of the people need not suffer defeat in the 
contest of democracy and enlightenment against privilege 
or ignorance. But the issues are often not clear. And 
it is in the critical controversial areas in which a con- 
sensus consistent with the requirements of enlightenment 
and of democracy has not been attained that the educator 
encounters his most difficult problems. In these areas 
the educator has no clear mandate except the general 


Education for Democracy in Our Time 

mandate to make education, to the limit of his intelli- 
gence and understanding, an agency of enlightenment 
and democracy. 

Let us examine more closely the problem that con- 
fronts the educator in such a situation and the choice 
he must make. In the nature of the case neutrality is 
impossible in education in a critical field in which a 
consensus has not yet been attained. For the school 
to avoid consideration of controversial issues is to play 
into the hands of the forces opposed to all change. To 
study controversial problems without attempting ap- 
praisal in terms of a considered conception of the needs 
of democracy is likewise a concession to the interests 
opposed to the study of critical, economic, political, 
social, and moral problems in the school. Any form of 
neutrality, paradoxical though it may seem, becomes a 
form of positive social action. In the field of social 
conflict, to do nothing is to do something. The " neutral" 
teacher or educational leader throws the weight of his 
influence on the side of opposition to change. In some 
instances change should be opposed. But it should be 
opposed deliberately in the light of the most intelligent 
possible analysis of conditions and needs. 

The impossibility of neutrality in social affairs is well 
illustrated by the efforts of the United States to pursue 
a neutral policy in its foreign relations through the 
application of the neutrality laws in the Ethiopian and 
Spanish conflicts. To forbid the shipment of arms to 
both sides in such a situation is to aid the stronger. 
By making it impossible for the Spanish government as 
well as Franco to purchase much-needed war supplies 
here, the United States actually helped Franco to win. 
When this was once clearly understood, a shift in 
public sentiment with reference to these laws was 
immediately noticeable and doubtless explains the 

[ 220 ] 

Education and the Future of American Democracy 

fact that there was no considerable outcry for application 
of these laws to the war which Japan is waging against 
China. For those in a position to choose a course of 
action neutrality is simply impossible in any contest 
between the strong and the weak or between ignorance 
and enlightenment. This is not to argue that the United 
States should participate in foreign wars. It simply 
means that it is unwise to deceive ourselves as to the 
effects of " neutrality/' It is to argue that our policy 
should always be a positive one formulated in the light 
of the facts, for our strength and influence in the world 
are so great that any course we pursue in international 
affairs will have its positive effects on other nations. 
And so it is in education. The influence of the schools 
will be thrown on one side or the other in the struggle 
between democracy and the forces opposed to democracy. 
The forces opposed to democracy could ask no more 
of education than that it be indifferent to this struggle, 
that it should not attempt to give youth a realistic 
picture of contemporary life, that it should be "neutral." 
Educators should, therefore, make up their minds 
as to the kind of society they consider possible and 
desirable in this country in the proximate future and 
as to the educational program that will contribute 
most to the building of that society. It does not follow 
that educators should attempt to arrogate to themselves 
the sole direction of social change. The conclusion is 
inescapable, however, that schools and teachers will 
play an important role in determining the direction of 
social change, even if they endeavor to keep entirely 
out of fields of controversy or to follow a course of strict 
"neutrality." One is reminded of the cry of the lowly 
Nazarene, "He who is not for me is against me." Educa- 
tional policy should, then, be formulated by the profes- 
sion and by the public in the light of the history of 

[221 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

American democratic ideals and in the light of con- 
temporary social conditions and needs. The truth of the 
matter is that the public mind is never made but is always 
in the making. Upon the profession of education, then, 
rests the inescapable responsibility of making choices. 
A policy of " doing nothing," of avoiding choices is 
impossible. Such a policy is registered in the education 
of youth, for youth is deprived of the education that it 
should have. The educational leader, then, has no 
alternative but to lead! Educators have no alternative 
but to decide in what direction the influence of education 
will be exerted. This decision they will make whether 
they will to make it or not, whether they make it con- 
sciously or not. 

The notion that a dynamic society has definitely 
expressed its will with regard to what should be taught 
in the schools and that the educator can know with 
finality what the will of society is at any particular time, 
is most naive. Such an assumption betrays a woeful 
lack of knowledge of the nature of culture, of social 
processes, and of the forces operative in American society 
today. This notion is the great educational illusion 
of our time! It is the great alibi for educational inaction. 

The Meaning of This Choice 

It is imperative that the meaning of this choice be 
made perfectly clear, for the issues can be easily 
obscured and have been too largely obfuscated by much 
of current educational discussion, especially with refer- 
ence to the evils of "indoctrination." Education for 
democracy in our time does not impose an impossible 
burden either on the school or on the teaching profes- 
sion, though such a realistic program will be and is being 
vigorously opposed on the grounds that the " schools 
should not be employed for propaganda purposes" or 

[ 222 ] 

Education and the Future of American Democracy 

"to undermine American institutions." We are agreed 
that they should not be used either for propaganda 
purposes or for the undermining of American democratic 
institutions. Just where, then, is the seat of the difficulty? 
The difficulty arises when education seeks to make the 
critical social issues of our time clear in all their bearings, 
to examine the realities back of symbols and stereotypes, 
to cut through the mythology that provides so many 
spurious explanations for economic and political phe- 
nomena, that supplies the only theoretical basis for 
much of current economic practice. A few illustrations 
will suffice. 

The American people have been told that old-age 
pensions, unemployment insurance, and other items in 
a social-security program are socialistic, therefore bad 
and " un-American." Government financing of housing 
projects or ownership of electric utilities, government 
regulation of hours and wages, laws protecting workers in 
their right of collective bargaining, taxation for the 
purpose of effecting a redistribution of wealth are all 
socialistic and therefore bad, undemocratic, and un- 
American. These policies may be good or they may be 
bad. In the opinion of the writer we need to move in this 
general direction, for reasons that have been set forth. 
But how is the goodness or badness of such proposals 
to be judged? By their economic and social effects. If 
such policies are carefully formulated after searching 
analyses of conditions and needs, if they are carried 
out democratically, and if they benefit the common 
people, they are good. The principle of the democratic 
as over against the dictatorial method and the prin- 
ciple of the general welfare are the paramount con- 
siderations. It is the function of education to make 
clear that a policy is neither good nor bad by reason 
of its being " capitalistic " or " socialistic." It is the 

[ 223 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

responsibility of education, however, to make clear that 
economic insecurity is today a threat to democracy, 
that continued unemployment for millions is a menace 
to our liberties and to our peace and security, that 
government should assume responsibility for the pro- 
motion of the general welfare, and that government is 
the only authority competent to deal with many of the 
problems produced by the highly integrated industrial 
economy of the twentieth century. It is just as important 
to understand what this choice does not mean. It does 
not mean that the schools will become the tool of any 
political party or be employed to teach the blue prints 
of a new social order. 

In brief, this choice means that education will come 
to grips honestly and realistically with the critical 
problems affecting the welfare of the people in our time 
in all areas of life economic, political, social, moral, 
and intellectual. The schools will be above party. All 
important proposals will be fairly and searchingly ex- 
amined. But education will always be carried on in a 
democratic frame of reference. This frame of reference 
will apply both to purpose and to content and method. 
The curriculum must be centered on the problems of our 
time. Administration and control must be democratic. 
Educational opportunity must be available to all 
equally and must in no respect be the privilege of the 
few who are favored economically. The schools must 
be kept free intellectually. Nor does it mean that culture 
will be neglected. Only in the fashion outlined can 
the schools in the truest sense become "a road to cul- 
ture" for the masses of the people. Such a choice means, 
too, that educators must individually and collectively 
become a positive force in our political and social life. 
The discharge of this obligation and the exercise of their 
civic rights do not unfit them for teaching in accordance 


Education and the Future of American Democracy 

with the most exacting conception of education in a 
free society. It will do so only if they become the mere 
tools of political groups inimical to the principles o" 

The Education of the Teachers 

The success of this educational undertaking depends 
in large measure on the intellectual and professional 
equipment of the educator. Scholarship, as I have said 
in another connection, is demanded of the teacher 
scholarship in the field of his own specialty and scholar- 
ship in the general field of education. The teacher or 
administrator must see his work in its larger social 
relationship, "must know what education is all about/' 
must see the relation between ends and means. 

For a long time teacher training consisted of little 
more than an attempt to give the novice some familiarity 
with the content of the actual subjects that he was to 
teach and some training in method. The emphasis on 
method was unavoidable in the face of the problem of 
furnishing the personnel required to staff a school system 
expanding as rapidly as the American system was in the 
century between 1830 and 1930. Rapid progress has 
been made in the last forty years. Standards for admis- 
sion to teacher-training institutions and to the profession 
are being raised. The general and professional education 
offered in teacher-training institutions is of much better 
quality than a generation ago. Graduate schools of 
education have been established in nearly all the leading 
universities and include in their faculties some of the 
most distinguished scholars in the country. 

The situation has been greatly improved but is by 
no means satisfactory. Many of the teachers' colleges 
maintained by states and municipalities are weak 
institutions, often poverty-stricken culturally and in- 

[ 225 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

tellectually, lacking in physical resources, with faculties 
that, with notable exceptions, are not well-equipped 
for their work. There are, of course, outstanding excep- 
tions of teachers' colleges that provide both under- 
graduate and graduate instruction of the highest quality. 
But there is much to be said for the view that teachers 
should be educated in a college or university environ- 
ment that makes available the requisite intellectual and 
cultural resources. Most of the state and city teachers' 
colleges should be expanded into good general colleges 
with strong educational departments. Such strong 
regional colleges are needed in most states. Some should 
doubtless be closed, for many were established for 
political reasons, not because they were really needed 
for the professional education of teachers. A large 
percentage of teachers are prepared in weak private 
and denominational colleges. Such institutions should 
be held to the strictest standards and the weak ones 
eliminated as teacher-training institutions. 

Method is, of course, of vital importance but largely 
useless, indeed a positive menace, in the hands of the 
teacher or administrator or research worker or other 
specialist who does not bring to his work adequate 
intellectual equipment in the general field of educational 
theory and adequate preparation in the scientific and 
the social and philosophical foundations of education. 
The general criticism could still be brought against most 
schools of education that attention to techniques is 
out of proportion to the attention given to the nature 
and needs of the society that the school serves. But 
it is an encouraging sign that with the deepening of the 
economic, political, and intellectual crises, the center 
of gravity has begun to shift to a more adequate con- 
sideration of the social nature and consequences of the 
educative process. Our heritage in this respect is a 

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Education and the Future of American Democracy 

rich one, embracing as it does the work of such men as 
Jefferson and Franklin among the founders, Horace 
Mann, Henry Barnard, William T. Harris, Francis 
Parker, William James, and a group of contemporaries 
of which John Dewey has been the leading figure. 

The task that now confronts the profession in the 
field of professional education is twofold. The curri- 
culums of teachers' colleges and schools of education 
must be reconstructed. Greater emphasis must be placed 
on competent scholarship in the field of the teacher's 
specialty. The endless duplication of courses con- 
cerned with techniques must be reduced. The fiddle- 
faddle still characteristic of much of this instruction 
must be entirely eliminated. The prospective teacher 
must be thoroughly grounded in the scientific, social, 
psychological, and philosophical foundations of educa- 
tion. He must be equipped to understand the political, 
economic, and intellectual crises that grip the world 
today. The widest possible use must be made of the 
scientific and statistical method, but the study of 
education must be freed from the fetish of the quantita- 
tive. Teachers must come into possession of the knowl- 
edge of human behavior, of individual growth and 
personality that psychology and sociology have given us. 
The research connected with candidacy for the higher 
degrees must be directed to more fundamental problems 
and issues. Standards for entrance to the profession 
must be raised. Possession of a Master's degree or its 
equivalent should be required everywhere as the mini- 
mum qualification for admission to the profession. The 
Doctor's degree should become, and for that matter is 
rapidly becoming, the normal expectation for posts of 
major responsibility in the schools and teachers' colleges 
as well as in graduate schools of education. I say this 
notwithstanding the evils that are connected with the 

[ 227 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

prevalent tendency to make a fetish of degrees for the 
simple reason that some such measure of the adequate- 
ness of the teacher's formal preparation is essential, 
a necessary evil perhaps. 

But this professional education can only be begun 
in the college and university. It is good if it has cultivated 
in the teacher an inquiring mind and the habits of reading 
and study and has given him a deep and absorbing 
interest in educational, social, and intellectual problems 
and deep social sympathies and understanding. This is 
the best test of the work of a school of education. 
But the teacher's professional education must continue 
in service. This need is especially acute at this time, 
when so few of us in service have had the advantage of 
the quality of professional education I have just de- 
scribed. The primary responsibility for the in-service 
education of teachers must be shared between adminis- 
tration and teachers' organizations. The whole educa- 
tional enterprise, properly conceived and administered, 
becomes an educational experience for all engaged in it. 

The professional education of the teacher is at this 
time of the most critical importance. The major responsi- 
bility for its improvement falls squarely on the profession 

Education and the Future of Democracy 

The task that confronts education in our day is, then, 
preeminently a social and political task, for the modern 
world has come to the parting of the ways. 

One way leads to authoritarianism, to dictatorship, 
to suppression of every manifestation of liberty and 
freedom, to intellectual and, for many, economic slavery, 
to the destruction of every value inherent in the great 
liberal and democratic traditions. If the forces of dictator- 
ship and black reaction are triumphant over the forces 

[ 228 ] 

Education and the Future of American Democracy 

of democracy in the wars that now grip Europe and Asia 
and threaten the peace of all nations, the world may well 
be plunged into another dark age. 

The other road is the road of democracy. It is a long 
and difficult road. But democracy cannot meet its 
problems by running away from them. Mussolini has 
asserted that as the nineteenth century was the century 
of liberalism, so the twentieth will be the century of 
fascism. This prophecy need not be fulfilled. It will 
not be fulfilled in the United States if those who believe 
in democracy have the courage of their convictions, 
if they are willing to sink all other differences in the 
fight for the maintenance of our democratic institutions 
and processes. 

The task that confronts us is one of social strategy. 
We are threatened not only by stark reaction and by 
the authoritarians on the right but by the absolutists 
on the left who assert that they can employ authoritarian 
and autocratic methods to attain a democratic purpose. 
A social strategy must be fashioned for democracy. 
This strategy must recognize that the process of democ- 
racy is a gradual one. The right of revolution is a right 
that cannot be denied, one that was affirmed in our 
Declaration of Independence and by our war for inde- 
pendence. But under democracy revolution has been 
"institutionalized." Only autocracy can benefit by 
violent revolution in the United States of the twentieth 
century. Our safety will be assured only if desirable 
changes can be effected in time to prevent a revolu- 
tionary situation from developing. Promptness, celerity 
in effecting needed changes are, then, essential. Such a 
strategy must take account of the actualities of American 
life, of its class structure, its interest groups, what is 
good and what is undesirable in its traditions and in 
current conditions. Such a strategy must keep the 

[ 229 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

values and purposes of democracy always steadfastly 
in view and must never deviate either from these pur- 
poses or from the methods of democracy. The times 
call for a strategy that is both bold and resolute. 

The role of education in all this is a critical one. 
Education is dependent on democracy, and democ- 
racy is dependent on education. The future of democracy 
and the future of education are inseparable. Democracy 
is education and education is democracy. If the American 
schools fail democracy in the great crisis that now con- 
fronts it, all will be lost. For the second time in our history 
education must be redirected and refashioned in order 
that it may effectively serve democracy in the new social 
order that is emerging, may become a constructive force 
in determining the shape of this new society. This is the 
challenge of our age to the educator. There is no time to 

[ 230 ] 


Absolutes, system of, 205-208, 210, 


Academies, 90, 105 
"Activity program," 100, 106 
Acton, Lord, quoted, 147 
Administration of education, 7, 

126-149, 168 

for democracy, 138-149, 224 
function, 146-148 
principles, 139141 
teacher and, 143-146, 181 
Adult education, 7, 49, 96, 167 
Africa, 19 
Agrarian revolt, 32 
Agriculture, 9, 24, 45 
American Bar Association, 135, 182 
American Council on Education, 

182, 194, 198 
American Federation of Labor, 

177, 182, 190 
American Federation of Teachers, 

135, 176, 178, 182, 194, 196- 

197, 202 

American Indians, 43 
American Legion, 75, 135 
American Revolution, 4, 20-21, 37, 


American Telephone and Tele- 
graph Company, 27 
American traditions, 50-51 
America's Capacity to Produce, 46- 

47, 153 

Anti-Semitism, 49 
Antitrust legislation, 56 
Aquinas, St. Thomas, 33, 111, 210 

Aristotle, 33 

Arkansas, 158 

Armaments, 19, 78 

Arnold, Folklore of Capitalism , 20, 

Assembly, freedom of, 21, 61, 74, 
80, 98 

Association of Land Grant Col- 
leges, 135 

Association of University Pro- 
fessors, 182 

Australia, 19 

Austria, 19, 61 

Authoritarian state, 4, 59, 102, 128 

Authoritarianism, 14, 33-35, 39, 
54, 60, 78, 205-206, 228-229 
in education, 83, 86-87, 139, 

Autocracy, 64-65 

in school administration, 127 

Automobiles, 23-24, 46 

Awareness, 211 


Balkan states, 43 

Barnard, Henry, 7, 90, 227 

Beard, Charles A., 89, 128-129 

Berle, Adolph A., Jr., 26-27, 71 

Big business, 22 

Binet, 10 

Bingham, Alfred M., 38 

Birth rate, decline, 44 

Boards of control, 141-143 

Boards of education, 131, 138-143, 

147, 168 

Bode, Boyd H., 206, 208 
Borah, Senator, 32 

[ 231 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

"Bourgeoisie, big," 60 

Brookings Institution, 46-47, 153 

Bryan, William Jennings, 9 

Business, 9, 22-23 

government regulation, 22 
influence on government, 5, 31 

Business cycle, 22 

Buying power, 22-23 


California, 157 

University of, 154 
Canada, 19 
Capitalism, 13, 18-21, 26, 28-31, 

50, 54-57, 73, 95-96, 102, 206, 

216, 223 
Capitalist classes, fascism and, 


Capitalist democracies, 61, 69, 71 
Capitalist parties, 61-62 
Cartels, 22 
Carter, 90 

Cather, Willa, My Antonia, 43 
Catholics, in Maryland, 40 
Censorship, 66 
Census of 1930, 30 
Chain stores, 30 
Chart of Plenty, 46-47 
Chartist movement, 21 
Chase, Stuart, 23 
Chicago, 130, 197 

University of, 119 
Child-centered education, 13, 117 
Child labor, 77, 122, 180 
Child Welfare Research Station, 

University of Iowa, 169 
China, 19, 79^80, 221 
Church, former authority, 92 
C.I.O., 196 

Citizenship, education for, 88-91 
City manager, 48 
Civic responsibilities of teachers, 

Civil liberties, 21, 49-50, 62, 69, 

74r-75, 127, 180, 200 
as means and ends, 80, 98 

Civil service, 29-30, 149 
Civil War, 42, 176 
Class distinctions, American atti- 
tude toward, 37, 49, 150 
Class structure of American 

society, 29, 36-37, 135-138, 

219, 229 

Class struggle, 62, 75-76 
Collective bargaining, 223 
Collective ownership, 19, 56-57 
Collectivism, 28, 70, 178 
Colleges, 6-7, 90, 105-109, 123, 

152-153, 168, 226, 228 
boards of trustees, 141-142 
curriculum, 118-120 
state, 6, 131 
Colorado, school campaign, 185- 

189, 193 
Colorado PMucation Association, 

186-187, 189 
Columbia College, 119 
Coming American Fascism, 63 
Comintern, 58-59 
Commerce, free, 20-21 
Commission government, 48 
Common schools (see Public 


Communism, 5, 82, 102, 209 
Communists, 5, 58-59, 61, 77, 

196, 210 
Community, former influence of, 


as laboratory, 14, 99 
as school, 154-156 
school and, 122-123 
Community planning, 121 
Competition, free, 21-22, 25, 54-55 
Conditioning, 12, 83-84, 99 
Conservation, of natural resources, 


Conservative party, 77-78, 80 
Consideration, school, 131-133 
Constitution, Federal, 130 
Constitutional Convention, 130 
Consumers' cooperatives, 56 

[ 232 ] 


Control of education, 4, 81-82, 
126-149, 156-161, 16S-170, 
Cooperation, in democracy, 15, 68 

on frontier, 41 
Cooperative movement, 49, 56-57, 


Copernicus, 206 
Core curriculum, 119, 121 
Corey, Lewis, 38 
Corporate state, 60 
Corporations, 22, 25-27, 55, 71, 

interlocking, 26 

limited-liability, 27 
Cotton gin, 18 
Coughlin, Father, 32, 75, 169 
Counties, consolidation, 132-133 
Counts, George S., 38, 105 
Crisis, in civilization, causes, 20-28 

in democracy, 35-38 

economic, 29-31 

nature of, 18-20, 28-38 

political, 31-33 

in thought, 33-35 
Crop control, 24 

Culture, 87, 96, 111-112, 116, 124, 

and democracy, 94-98 
Curriculum, 13-14, 141, 145, 213- 
214, 228 

contemporary, 112, 224 

core, 119, 121 

functional, 118-123 

legislation and, 5, 177 

planning, 113-117, 172 

reconstruction, 104-107 
Cyr, Frank W., 157 
Czechoslovakia, 19, 79 
Czechs, 43 


Data, assembling, 123 
Daughters of the American Revo- 
lution, 135 

De Garmo, 8 

Declaration of Independence, 34, 

41, 74, 229 
Delaware, 157 
Democracy, 11, 60, 209 

abroad, 7&-80 

administration and, 147-149 

American belief in, 138, 189 

assets and resources, 39-42 

authoritarianism and, 33-35 

crisis in, 35-38 

culture and, 94-98 

danger to, 3-4, 1&-20, 22, 31-33 

economic struggle, 35, 68-69 

education (see Education) 

ends and means, 63-67 

fascism rejects, 59 

intellectual freedom, 103 

intelligence and, 85-87, 95 

loyalties, 87, 98, 103 

meaning of, 67-69 

method, 60-63, 74-75 

philosophy of, 34 

political, 35 

processes, 66, 68 

social strategy for, 229-230 

system of values, 67-68 

vitality, 37, 42, 48-50 

way of life, 94 
Democratic party, 56, 61 
Democratic Way of Life y 53-54 
Dennis, Lawrence, Coming Ameri- 
can Fascism, 63 
Denver, 180-187 

Depression, of 1929, 6, 23-25, 32, 

periods of, 19, 22, 24, 30 

threat to democracy, 22 
Dewey, John, 8, 12-14, 85, 111, 
196, 227 

experimental school, 106 
Dictatorship, fascist, 61, 210, 228 

of proletariat, 58, 62, 64, 209 
Dictatorship in the Modern World, 

Discipline, intellectual, 123 

[ 233 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

Distribution, instruments of, 56, 

73, 96 

Dole, 218-219 
Dutch, in New World, 40 


Economic crisis, 29-31 
Economic equality, loss of, 30 
Economic individualism, 18, 21, 

26, 30, 50, 57 
trend from, 28-29, 95-96 

(See also Capitalism) 
Economic nationalism, 57 
Economic power, 53-54, 69 
Economic security, 30-33, 48, 52, 

69, 224 
Economy, problem of control, 25, 

28-38, 55, 95-96 
"Economy of abundance," 47 
Education, administration (see 

Administration of education) 
attempts to control, 5-6 
conflicts, 87-88 
control of, 81-82, 126-149 

financial, 129, 156-161, 177 

local and lay, 130-132, 157- 

160, 163, 167-168 

social, 4, 81-82, 126-149, 156- 

161, 168-170, 177 
democracy in, 98-100 

for democracy in our time, 4, 

11-17, 38, 67, 81-125, 215- 


culture, 96-98, 116, 211 
social program, 93-96 
duty to social order, 212 
equal opportunity, 157, 224 
as experience, 215 
Federal aid to, 15&-161, 166- 

168, 184, 186, 200 
without Federal control, 161- 

164, 166-168 

four points of view, 205-218 
future of democracy and, 228- 

general, 107-109 

Education, indoctrination, 100-103 

national systems, 4 

neutralization, 88, 93 

philosophy of, 11 

political purpose, 7, 88-93 

pressures upon, 5-6, 88 

progressive (see Progressive 

schools of, 7, 227 

scientific movement, 9-12 

as social policy, 203-218 

a social process, 211-215 

social purposes of, 5, 7-9, 15-17, 
88-93, 178 

social revolution and, 5 

state support for, 157, 177 

study of, 179 

of teachers, 225-228 

theories of, 124 

unique function, 127-130 

for work, 108-109 

(See also Schools) 
Elementary schools, 6, 44, 104- 

109, 112-113, 118, 120, 151 
Embargoes, 75 
England, 19, 24, 40, 45, 61 

institutions transplanted, 39-40 

political democracy, 21 

Revolution in, 111 

schools in, control, 132 

(See also Great Britain) 
Entrepreneurs, 20-21, 30, 37, 104 
Equality, as foundation of liberty, 

interpretation of, 150 

of opportunity, 150-170 

educational, 151-154, 168- 

170, 200 

Evolution, Tennessee statute, 5 
Experience, education as, 215-218 
Experimental schools, 13, 106 
Experimentalism, 14 

Fabian socialist party, 61 
Factory system, 21, 53 



Farm, self-contained, 71 

specialization on, 26 
Farm machinery, 18, 23 
Farmer-labor parties, 76 
Farmers, 8, 30, 37 

tenant, 27-28 

Farmers 7 organizations, 31, 48-49, 
63, 96, 136, 186, 192-193, 201 
Fascism, 11, 32-34, 49-50, 59-61, 
63, 102, 180 

danger of, in United States, 74- 
75, 138, 163 

in education, 5, 204 

states, 28, 66, 82, 209 
Federal Constitution, 130 
Federal Office of Education, 164, 


Federal Trade Commission, 26 
Federalists, 32 
Feudalism, 20, 206 
Florida, 40 

Folklore of Capitalismj 20 
Ford, Guy Stanton, 61 
Ford, Henry, 29 
Ford production line, 23 
Foreign relations, 78-80 
Forest resources, 72 
Forum, 49 

Foundations, 198-199 
France, 19, 40 

schools in, 4, 82, 88, 132, 163, 166 
Franco, 79, 220 
Franklin, Benjamin, 89, 104-105, 


Free competition, 21-22, 25, 54-55 
Free market, 21-22, 24-25, 55 
Free schools, 5-7, 81 

battle for, 81, 175-176, 187-189 

education for democracy, 93 

social purpose, 88-93 
Free trade, 25 

Freedom, of assembly, 21, 61, 74, 

of press, 21, 49, 61, 65, 80, 89, 98, 

Freedom, of speech, 21, 49, 65, 67, 

74, 80, 98, 209, 212-214 
of teaching, 6, 80, 141, 177, 180- 

182, 185, 200, 210, 212 
Freeman, Frank N., 11 
Frontier, 91 

closing of, 8, 43, 132 
schools, 131 

for democracy, 41 


Galileo, 206 

Gellerman, William B., 75 
General education, 107-109 
General Motors, 27 
Germans, 42 

Germany, 4, 19, 24, 33, 40, 49, 

chemistry in, 45 

Gymnasium, 113 

republic, 58, 65 

schools in, 82, 88 

Third Reich, 19, 59, 191, 204 

Volkschule, 112-113 
Gideonse, Harry D., 207-208 
Glass, Carter, 76 

Graduate schools, for adminis- 
trators, 7, 149 

of education, 225, 227 
Great Britain, 61, 88, 132, 163, 

(See also England) 
Greek city state, 67-68 
Greenback movement, 32 
Guild socialists, 57 
Guild system, 20-21 


Hacker, United States A Graphic 

History, 36 
Hague, Frank, 75 
Hague machine, 130 
Hall, G. Stanley, 8 
Handicrafts, 18, 21, 71 
Hanna, Paul R., 122-123 

[ 235 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

Harris, William T., 8, 227 
Hartmann, George, 15 
Hayes, Carlton, 82 
Hebrews, 67 
Hegel, 208 

High schools, 6, 106-109, 116-117, 
151-153, 160 

curriculum of, 121 

teaching in, 113 
History, study of, 119-120 
Hitler, 4, 19, 65, 210 
Holding companies, 30 
Home, 92 

Hoover, Herbert, 76 
Hours and wages, 77, 223 
Housing, 56, 123, 180, 193, 223 
Huguenots, 40 
Hungary, 43 

Hutchins, President Robert M., 
204, 207 

Illinois, 156 

Immigration, 39-^0, 42-44, 91 

restricted, 43 
Imperialism, 57 

Income, national, 52, 168, 179, 216 
Income tax, Colorado, 186-189, 


Individual, 34, 60, 83, 98, 115 
Individualism, economic (see 

Indoctrination, 15, 88, 93, 100-103, 

195, 212, 222 
Industrial Revolution, 7, 18-19, 

21, 23, 53, 104 

Industrial workers, 21-22, 190 
Industry, freedom from control, 


science in, 9 
unemployment and, 23 
Institute of Public Opinion, 37-38 
Insurgent America, 38 
Intelligence, 85-88 
Intelligence tests, 9-10 

Interest groups, 134-138, 219, 229 
International, Second, 58 

Third or Communist, 58 
International trade, 19, 33 
Interstate Commerce Commission, 

Iowa, 156 

University of, 169 
Irish, 42 
Isolation, 79-80 
Italy, 4, 33, 43, 49, 79 

fascism in, 59, 191 

schools of, 82, 88 

Jackson, Andrew, 25-26, 32, 56 
James, William, 8, 12, 111, 227 
Japan, 19, 221 
Jefferson, Thomas, 7, 25, 31-32, 

37, 56, 89, 104, 227 
Jersey City, 49, 75, 130 
Junior college, 109, 116-117 


Keynes, J. M., 73 
Kilpatrick, William H., 15 
Kohn, Hans, 61 
Ku Klux Klan, 75 

La Follette, Robert, 76 

La Follette, Robert Marion, 9 

La Follette family, 32 

La Follette investigations, 74-75 

La Guardia, Fiorello, 48 

Labor, 8, 21-22, 43, 56, 123 

organized, 31, 48, 96, 135-136, 

142, 186, 190-193, 196 
Labor parties, 61, 76 
Labor-saving machines, 23, 30, 45 
Labor unions, 57, 63, 65, 191, 196- 
197, 201 

[ 236 ] 


Laissez faire, 20, 60, 178, 214 

Land, 24, 72 

Land grants, for education, 131, 

135, 157 

Lay control of education, 130-132 
Leadership, educational, 137-138, 

174, 179, 185-189, 222 
Legislation, business regulation, 

social, 48 
Leisure class, 94 

Liberal party, needed, 76-78, 80-81 
Liberalism, 3, 15, 21, 61, 70, 79, 

89, 196, 209, 216, 229 
Liberty, problem of, 52-54 
Liberty and Equality, 53 
Libraries, 99, 106 
Lincoln School, 119 
Linville, Dr. Henry, 196 
Lippmann, Walter, 70-72 
Lobbies, 173, 177 
Local control of education, 130- 

132, 157-160, 163, 167-168 
Local government, 40, 48 
Loeb, Harold, 46-17 
Long, Huey, 32, 75 
Louisiana, 40 
Loyalties, 85-88 

Loyalty oaths, 6, 136, 175, 177, 184 
Lundberg, Ferdinard, 26, 36 
Lutherans, 40 
Lynd, Robert S., and Helen M., 36, 



Machinery, 7, 21 

labor-saving, 23, 30, 46 
McMurrys, 8 

Madison, James, 55, 89, 92 
Magna Carta, 40 
Manhood suffrage, 21, 54, 90 
Mann, Horace, 5, 7, 37, 90-91, 227 
Manufacture, 18, 20-21 
Markets, free, 21-22, 24-25, 55 
Marx, Karl, 31 

theory of, 57-58, 61, 191, 210 

Marxian parties, 76 

Maryland, 40 

Mass production, 23, 45-46 

Maverick, Maury, 76 

Mead, George, 74 

Means, Gardiner C., 26-27, 71 

Mennonites, 40 

Mercantilism, 20-21 

Mergers, 24, 30 

Method, democratic, 60-63, 74-75 

of education, 98, 116, 214, 225- 

scientific arid statistical 10, 123, 


Michigan, University of, 154 
Middle class, 21-22, 32, 36-38, 63, 
104, 136, 191 

fascism and, 60 
Middletown, 169 
Milwaukee, 23 
Minerals, 24, 45, 72, 77 
Minim um-wages-and-hours laws, 


Minnesota, 43 
Minorities, 127, 137 
Mississippi, 158 
Mississippi Valley, 45 
Monopolies, 21-22, 26, 30, 56 
Mooncy, William B., 186 
Morgan, J. K, 91 
Mortgages, farm, 28 
Moscow, 58 
Munich, 78 

Municipal utilities, 56, 61 
Mussolini, 60, 79, 229 


National Association of Manu- 
facturers, 135 

National Chamber of Commerce, 

National Education Association, 
161, 176-177, 182, 193-194, 
197, 202, 214 

National Guard, 75 

[ 237 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

National income, 46-47, 52, 168, 

179, 216 
National Resources Committee, 

National Youth Administration, 

153, 167 

Nationalism, 4, 78, 81-82 
National resources, 19, 44-45, 72- 

73, 179 

Navigation laws, 21 
Nazis, 5, 65 
Nebraska, 48, 157 
Negroes, 43 
Neutrality, 217-222 
Neutrality Act, 79 
Nevada, 158 
New Deal, 56 
New England, 68, 134 
New Statesman and Nation, 73 
New York City, 48, 130, 196-197 
New York State, 157-158 
New York Times, 37 
New Zealand, 19 
Newspapers, 49, 62 
Newtonian physics, 86 
Nonintervention, 79 
Norris, Senator, 32, 48 
North Carolina, 6, 158 
North Dakota, 154 


Office of Education, 164, 167 
Old-age pensions, 168, 186-187, 


Opportunity, equality of, 150-170 
Overexpansion, 22 
Overproduction, appearance of, 22 
Ownership, 26-29, 56-57 
private, 27-28, 55, 59, 73 

Paine, Thomas, 37 

Panics, 24 

Parent-teacher associations, 183, 

Parker, Francis, 8, 12-13, 106, 227 

Parliamentary reform, 21 
Parochial schools, 126, 162, 164- 


Parties, political, 76-78 
Party line, 58, 77 
Pasadena, 109 
Pennsylvania, 157 
Personal-property tax, 156 
Personality, 67, 94 
Philosophy of education, 11 
Pierce, Bessie, 134 
Planning, 56, 69-73, 215-218 
curriculum, 172 
economic, 70-74, 96, 214^-215 
school program, 112-118 
by whom and for whom, 72 
Plato, 33, 205-206, 210 
Plebiscites, 60 
Poland, 19, 43, 79 
Political crisis, 31-33 
Political democracy, 20-21, 38, 50, 

57, 61, 68, 74, 104 
Political education, 89 
Political parties, 76-78 
Popular education, 7-9, 126, 130 

(See also Education) 
Popular front party, 59 
Population, stabilization of, 44 

surplus of, 24 
Populist movement, 32 
Post office, 61 
Pragmatism, 33, 41, 86-87 
President's Advisory Committee 

on Education, 156, 158-159, 

162, 198 
Press, freedom of, 21, 49, 61, 65, 

80, 89, 98, 212-214 
Pressure groups, 88, 93, 133-138 
Private enterprise, 29, 73, 78 
Private ownership, 55, 59, 73 
Private schools, 126, 142, 162, 164- 


experimental, 166 
progressive, 195 
Privilege, 38, 63, 68, 94, 96, 185, 

189, 200, 208, 219 

[ 238 ] 


Producers' cooperatives, 56 
Production, buying power and, 23 
factory system of, 21 
instruments of, 19, 55-57, 63, 73 
profits and, 22 
relations of, 58 
for use, 56 

Professional schools, 7, 131 
Professional workers, 29, 37, 191 
Profits, 22, 55, 62 
corporate, 23 
fascism and, 59 
motive, 30 
planning for, 72 

Progressive education, 9, 12-14, 
115, 117-118, 206, 211-215, 

Progressive Education, 212 
Progressive Education Association, 
12, 135, 177-178, 182, 194- 
195, 197, 202, 211 
Progressives, 32, 49, 56, 61, 76 
Propaganda, 5, 59, 66, 103, 123, 
130, 208-209, 212, 217, 222- 

Psychology, 99, 227 
Public education, system of, 4, 49- 

50, 61, 154, 166-168 
Public schools, 4-7, 88-93, 195 
battle for, 81, 175-176 187-189 
control, 126-149 
influence, 126 
optimum organization, 109 
public support only for, 164r-166 
(See also Education; Schools) 
Public works, 56, 77 
Puritans, 40 

Quakers, 40 
Quotas, 33 


Red Rider, 5 

Reforestation, 45 

Regulation, of industry, 32, 55-56, 

62, 71, 78, 223 

Relief, 161, 178, 186-187, 218 
Representative government, 68 
Republican party, 56, 61 
Research, 10-11, 46, 99 
Resources, natural, 19, 44-45, 72 

73, 179 
Revolution, 57, 59, 62 

American, 4, 20-21, 37, 104 

English, 111 

French, 20-21 

right of, 74, 229 

after World War, 19 
Rocky Mountain News, 187-189 
Roosevelt, Franklin D., 32, 37, 48 
Roosevelt, Theodore, 9, 12, 32 

quoted, 67-68 
Rugged individualism, 41 
Rural schools, 155 
Russell, James, E., 8, 92 
Russell, William F., 53 
Russia, 43, 45, 49, 191 

communism in, 5, 28, 58-59, 

dictatorship and democracy, 65- 
66, 209 

revolution, 3-4, 19, 58 

schools, 82, 88 


Railroads, 24, 56, 77 
Recreational facilities, 160 

Scandinavians, 40, 42-43, 73 
Scholarship of teacher, 124, 225, 

School, as community, 122, 154- 


program, planning, 112-118 
social program for, 104-125 
School districts, 131, 156 
Schools, authoritarian states, 67 
boards of trustees, 63 
business practices of, 139, 147 
consolidation of, 131-133 

[ 239 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 

Schools, elementary (see Elemen- 
tary schools) 
experimental, 13 
fascism and, 60 
free (see Free schools) 
frontier, 131 
growth of, 5-7 
high (see High schools) 
public (see Public schools) 
rural, 155 
secondary (see Secondary 


(See also Education) 
Schurz, Carl, 42 
Science, 3, 9, 45, 85-87, 91, 104- 

105, 111, 120 

Scientific method, 10, 123, 227 
Scientific movement in education, 

Secondary schools, 6, 104-105, 

112-113, 118, 120, 151 
Securities Exchange Commission, 


Security, proposals for, 54-60 
Simon, 10 

Skills, 83-84, 97, 120 
intellectual, 117 
social, 100 
Slovaks, 43 
Smith, Adam, 54 
Smith, Eugene Randolph, 212 
Smith, T. V., 53-54 
Smith Brothers, 23 
Smith-Hughes Law, 162 
Social democracy, 50 
frontier and, 41-42 
Social education, nature of, 82-85, 

subject matter and activities, 

109-112, 168 
Social legislation, 48, 78 
Social reconstruction, education 

for, 69-70 

Social sciences, 119-120 
Social security, 44, 78, 193, 223 
Social services, 56, 77-78, 168 

Socialism, 5, 28, 33, 55-60, 73, 76, 

102, 223 

Socialist parties, 49, 61-62 
Socialist state, Russian, 19 
Spain, 79-80, 220 
Spanish-American War, 9 
Speculation, 22 
Speech, freedom of, 21, 49, 65, 67, 

74, 80, 98, 209, 212-214 
Stalin, 59 

Standard of living, 46, 162 
State, communism and, 58 

fascism and, 60 
State socialism, 33 
States, commissions, 26 

schools, control, 130-131, 162- 


support, 156-167, 200 
Steam engine, 18 
Stoddard, Professor George, 169 
Subsidies, 24 

Subsistence grants, 154, 160, 200 
Suffrage, manhood, 21, 54, 90 
Supreme Court, 48, 111, 119, 166 
Syndicalists, 57 

Tammany, 130 
Tariff, 25, 33 

Taxation, education, 156-161 
redistribution of wealth, 222 
for schools, 131 
Taylor, John, of Caroline, 25 
Teacher-training institutions, 200, 

Teachers, administration and, 143- 

civic responsibilities, 172-175, 

democracy, work for, 200, 219- 


education, 225-228 
political, 180-181, 201 
social, 197, 201 



Teachers, guidance, 122 

leadership, 137, 174, 179, 185- 
189, 222 

number of, 7 

pressures upon, 5 

scholarship of, 124-125 

social change, direction, 221-222 

study of education, 199-201 
Teachers' colleges, 200, 225-227 
Teachers' organizations, 135, 146 

administration and control of 
education, 181 

attitudes of, 193-199 

collaboration with public, 182- 


form, 190-193 
method, 184-189, 195 

democracy, work for, 200-201 

functions, 178-182 

leadership, 185-189 

social program for, 199-201 

unity, need for, 201-202 
Teaching, canons, 171 

freedom of (see Freedom, of 

redirection, 121 

regulation, 173 

Teaching profession, leadership, 
179, 185-189 

organization, 175-178 

social program for, 171-202 
Technological unemployment, 22- 

Technology, 3, 9, 18, 30, 43, 78, 86, 

92, 108, 190 
Telephones, 46 
Tennessee, 5 
Textile machinery, 18 
Thompson machine, 130 
Thorndike, 10 
Thought, crisis in, 33-35 
Tory socialism, 78 
Totalitarian state, 59 
Town meetings, 68, 147 
Trade, world, 19, 33 

Trade unionism, 57, 65, 191 
Traditions, American, conflicting, 

Trusts, 22 

Tuition fees, 152-153, 162 
Turner, Frederick J., 41 


Underconsumption, 22 
Unemployment, 23, 37, 123, 178- 

179, 218, 224 
technological, 22-23 
Unemployment insurance, 223 
Unions, 57, 63, 65, 191, 196-197, 


United States, collectivism in, 28 
economic system, present, 25-26 
mass production, 23, 45-46 
national income, 46-47, 52, 168, 

179, 216 

resources, natural, 24, 44-45 
political and educational, 47- 


technology, 45-47, 50 
traditions, 50-51 
United States A Graphic History, 


United States bank, 25, 32 
United States Chamber of Com- 
merce, 135, 184 
Universities, 6-7, 9, 109, 123-124, 

152-153, 168, 226, 228 
administration, 139, 141-142 
schools of education, 200 
state, 6, 131 

University of Chicago, 119 
Urbanization, 18, 91 
Utilities, 26, 32, 56, 61 

Versailles, Treaty of, 19 
Vocational education, 107-109 
Voting, 53-54, 66, 90 
[241 ] 

Education for Democracy in Our Time 


Wage earners, 29-31, 53, 63, 75 
Wages, 22-23, 29-31, 77, 196, 223 
Washington, George, 89 
Wealth, concentration of, 22, 24, 
31, 216 

distribution, 27, 29 

redistribution, 223 
Webb, Beatrice, 65 
Webb, Sidney, 65 
West, 24, 44, 91, 109 

agrarian revolt, 32 
White-collar workers, 29, 37 136, 


Williams, Roger, 40 
Wilson, Woodrow, 9, 32 
Wisconsin, 43, 48, 76 

Women in industry, 77 
Workers, 58, 90, 142 
industrial, 21-22, 190 
insecurity of, 96 
right of, to collective bargaining, 


unemployed, 23-24 
World War, 4-6, 11, 18-19, 22, 43, 

Yardstock principle, 56 
Youth Serves the Community, 122- 


Zoning, 72